Financial help for new parents
A new baby is an exciting and life changing experience. So when it comes to getting ready, it pays to get your finances sorted too. The good news is there’s lots of financial support available for new parents, so make sure you know what you’re entitled to.
What benefits are you entitled to when you’re pregnant?
There are plenty of benefits available to expectant Mums and Dads, so we’ve listed some of the support worth looking into below:
1. Paid time off work
If you’re a working Mum to be, then you’re entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. You’ll get Statutory Maternity Pay 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 £172.48 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, the government website has a helpful SMP calculator that will help you understand how your salary will change during your maternity leave.
2. Paternity and partners leave
Partners can choose either 1 or 2 weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave paid at £172.48 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings – whichever is lower. Leave needs to be taken in one go and can’t start before the birth.
There’s also the option of Shared Parental Leave and Pay, where you and your partner can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between you.
3. Free NHS dental care and prescriptions
From when you’re pregnant, right up to your baby’s first birthday, Mums get free dental treatment. And in England, prescriptions are free too. Just ask your GP or midwife for a Maternity Exemption Certificate (MATB1).
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.
Check your eligibility on Sure Start Maternity Grant section of gov.co.uk.
What benefits are you entitled to when you return to work?
Some benefits 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 £24 per week for the first child, then £15.90 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. Approved Childcare
You can get help paying for childcare if it’s provided by one of the qualifying bodies known as 'approved childcare'.
The rules around which childcare providers are approved varies depending on where you live, so be sure to check what the eligibility is for your area.
3. Funded childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds
The government offers funded childcare for 3 to 4 year olds which can be a huge help for parents. You must use an approved provider and the eligibility differs for each part of the UK, so make sure you check what you're entitled to.
4. Find out if you’re eligible for tax credits
Tax credits are there to help support some families and come in two basic types:
You could claim Child Tax Credits for children you’re responsible for and it doesn’t affect your Child Benefit. However, you can only make a claim for Child Tax Credit if you already get Working Tax Credit.
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.
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.