The costs of having a child are huge but if you are on a low income there are Government schemes to help you out financially. Here are the four types of benefit you may be able to claim if you need financial support to bring up a child.
Sure Start maternity grant
The Sure Start maternity grant is a one-off payment to help with the costs of having a baby.
You can apply for this grant if you or your partner already claim certain benefits and it’s your first child, or if you are expecting multiple births such as twins.
To be eligible for this grant you must meet both of those criteria.
If you already have children you cannot apply for this grant, unless you are expecting a multiple birth.
The grant comes in the form of a one-off payment of £500 – this means you don’t have to pay this back and it won’t affect your other benefits or tax credits so if you think you could be eligible this is an essential grant to claim.
You have to claim this grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within six months after the baby’s birth.
This grant only applies in England and Wales but, Scotland has a similar scheme called a Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
Healthy Start scheme
If you are pregnant or have a child under the age of four this scheme can help you buy essential foods.
The scheme is designed to help parents afford basic foods such as milk or fruit.
To be eligible for this schema you must already be receiving benefits.
The scheme will send you vouchers which can be used in more than 30,000 shops in the UK.
You can also get coupons to swap for pregnancy vitamins, breastfeeding vitamins and vitamins for children between six months to 5 years old.
If you or your partner earn more than £50,000 you may have to pay back some of your Child Benefit in tax, this is known as the “High Income Child Benefit Charge.”
An added benefit to this scheme is that you can get National Insurance credits which count towards your State Pension – this is great for parents who may be out of work to raising their child full time.
If you have a baby you might be entitled to receive more money if you are already claiming Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit.
You can claim up to £3,390 per year in Child Tax Credits.
Working Tax Credits can even be claimed if you’ve stopped work to have a baby, you can continue to claim these for the first 39 weeks of maternity or adoption leave or if you are a father for the duration of your ordinary paternity leave.
To be eligible for this you must have been working at least 16 or 30 hours a week before your leave, the number of hours depends on an individual’s circumstances.
There are further benefits you can claim if you have a disabled child or if you are a student with a baby.
This should enable you to continue your education whilst you care for your child.