Financial support for new parents

A new baby coming is one of the most exciting and life changing experiences. So when it comes to having a baby, it definitely pays to plan ahead, your finances included. You’re not alone, to do that properly you’ll need to know what financial support you might be entitled to.

Published

31 Jul 2017

What benefits are you entitled to when you’re pregnant?

There are plenty of benefits available to expectant Mums and Dads to be – but do you know which ones you’re entitled to? Here is some support worth looking into:

1. Paid time off work

Are you a working Mum to be? Then you’re entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. You’ll get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for the first 39 weeks, but the final 13 weeks will be unpaid.

With SMP you’ll get 90% of your usual average earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks, then, for the next 33 weeks you’ll get £140.98 a week. (Or 90% of your average weekly earnings if that’s lower.) Tax and National Insurance will be deducted as normal.

Some employers will top this amount up to help avoid some - or even all of the shortfall – so it pays to ask in advance what your company policy is.

This can appear a little confusing but don’t worry, gov.uk have a helpful SMP calculator that will help you understand how your salary will change during your maternity leave.

new baby asleep on dad

2. For partners too

Partners get either 2 weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave (£140.98 per week) or 90% of their average weekly earnings - whichever is lower .

There’s also the option of Shared Parental Leave and Pay. As long as Mum takes at least 2 weeks’ leave after she gives birth, the rest of the time (and pay) can be split.

3. Free dental care and prescriptions

From when you’re pregnant, right up to your baby’s first birthday, mums get free dental treatment - and free prescriptions – just ask your GP or midwife for a (MATB1) Maternity Exemption Certificate.

Remember, all prescriptions are currently free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

4. Extra support

Sure Start Maternity Grants are a one-off payment of £500 to help you prepare for your new arrival if you’re on a low income, or on benefits and have no other children. You may also be eligible for this grant if you are adopting or becoming a surrogate parent.

If you want to check if you are eligible, check out the Sure Start Maternity Grant site and see.

What benefits are you entitled to when you return to work?

There are many benefits that continue after maternity leave ends and you return to work, such as:

1. Child Benefit

This is paid every 4 weeks once your child is born until he or she turns 16, or up to 20 if they’re in full-time education or training.

The current allowance is £20.70 per week for the first child, then £13.70 per week for each additional child. But if you or your partner earn more than £50,000 you may have to pay some of it back in tax.

Unsure on what benefits you may be entitled to? The Child Benefit calculator will crunch the numbers for you.

2. Childcare Vouchers

If you’re eligible and your company is part of an approved Childcare Vouchers Scheme, you could save up to £1,000 a year – depending on how much you spend.

Say you turn £1,000 from your salary into Childcare Vouchers. That’s £1,000 you can use for registered child care – like a nanny, childminder, nursery, afterschool club and so on. That’s £1,000 you won’t be taxed on which you can use to spend on childcare.

But - as it’s essentially a ‘tax-free advantage’, this could affect your tax credits. The Childcare Vouchers calculator can help you work out if it is the most cost effective option for you. 

using Tesco Bank online banking on tablet

3. Free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds

Fast-forward a few years and you’ll get free pre-school childcare. The free childcare must be with an approved provider such as a registered childminder or registered school. As this support generally only runs during term time you may still have to look into organising childcare during school holidays.

Entitlement varies depending on where you live. Here’s an example:

LocationFree Childcare hours per yearFree Childcare hours per week
England57015
Scotland60016
Northern Ireland47512.5
Wales38010

Extra support for families - parents who receive Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Tax Credits may get a free nursery place when their child is 2-years-old. Contact your local council to see if they offer this kind of support.

Find out more about free childcare available in your area at gov.uk.

4. Find out if you’re eligible for tax credits

Tax credits help support families and come in two basic types:

The first is self-explanatory: if you have kids, you can get credits.

The second, Working Tax Credit, is available to people on low incomes who work, whether they have kids or not. Your family could be entitled to both.

The amount of credits depends on your personal circumstances, which you can estimate online using the Government’s Tax Credit Calculator

Important information

The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to the subject matter but does not constitute expert financial advice specific to your own situation. All facts and figures were correct at time of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.