Obviously, the extra money for all the extra bits and pieces you’ll need throughout pregnancy and beyond needs to come from somewhere. And if you’re already on a tight budget, you don’t need money worries on top of the morning sickness and 100 daily trips to the toilet.
The good news is that there is a variety of benefits and grants that may be available to you as a pregnant woman and new mother, so it’s time to get applying.
After all, benefits may have to be claimed using different forms and from different offices (depending on what you’re claiming), so the process could take a while.
It’s worth keeping in mind that, with a recent government overhaul of the welfare system, some of these benefits will soon be rolled into a single monthly payment under Universal Credit.
Some areas are already receiving Universal Credit, and others will follow this year, so it’s worth checking GOV.UK to see how this affects you and your benefits. However, many of the following schemes will remain in place.
What Am I Entitled to When I Have a Baby?
The best way to find out exactly what you’re entitled to is to head to the GOV.UK website and use their benefits calculators. But, here are most of the things you may be entitled to give you an idea, whether you’re working, unemployed, or on a low income — whatever your circumstances may be.
After all, any extra cash will help when your bundle of joy finally arrives!
1. Paid Time off Work for Antenatal Visits
All pregnant women are entitled to have paid time off work to go to their antenatal appointments.
This is on top of any annual leave or non-working days, and it includes classes your doctor may have recommended, such as parenting or birthing classes.
And don’t think you have to go it alone! The father of your baby (or same-sex partner) is also entitled to time off work (not paid, unfortunately) to join you at two of your antenatal appointments.
2. Maternity Grant
This grant is a one-off payment of £500 to help pay for equipment for your baby (yes please!), but only if this is your first baby.
Be sure to check if you’re eligible for this grant before your baby is a year old. You can find more information about the Maternity Grant here.
3. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
If eligible, you can claim Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer, paid for up to 39 weeks, with the amount you receive being dependent on how much you earn.
Keep in mind that the only way you can receive SMP is if you’ve been working for the same employer for at least 26 weeks and if your average earnings are £112 per week.
If you want to apply for SMP, be sure to tell your employer you want to stop working by the 15th week before your baby is due.
And don’t worry if you don’t qualify for SMP; you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead, which can be claimed after 26 weeks of pregnancy.
4. The Health in Pregnancy Grant
This grant is for women who are at least 25 weeks pregnant. It’s a one-off, tax-free payment of £190 to help women stay healthy during pregnancy and birth.
In order to receive this grant, you’ll need a signed claim form from your doctor or midwife. Just send the form to HM Revenue & Customs and the money will be paid into your bank account. Nice!
5. Free Prescriptions and Dental Care
Did you know that during pregnancy and for 12 months after your baby’s due date, all prescriptions and NHS dental treatment are completely free?
This is a great little bonus that’s worth taking advantage of, and a great time to sort out any niggly little fillings you’ve been putting off because of the cost!
In order to claim your free prescriptions and dental care, ask your doctor or midwife for a FW8 form, which you should then send off to your health authority.
They’ll send you a maternity exemption certificate, which you’ll need to show your dentist or pharmacist to claim your free treatment.
6. Healthy Start Scheme
If you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or already have a child under 4 and you already receive certain benefits, you may qualify for help under the Healthy Start Scheme (though if you’re under 18 and pregnant, you automatically qualify).
To see if you qualify, go to the NHS’s Healthy Start page.
Under the Healthy Start Scheme, you are given weekly vouchers to spend on milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables, and free vitamin supplements without a prescription.
What Am I Entitled to When I have a Baby after given birth?
7. Statutory Maternity Leave
If you work, you are automatically entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave to spend time with your lovely new arrival. It makes no difference how long you’ve worked for your employer either.
Maternity leave comprises 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.
However, if eligible there is also the option of taking shared parental leave if you and your partner choose to do so. This way, you can end your maternity leave early and get back to work and your partner can take your remaining entitlement.
8. Child Tax Credits
Be sure to find out if you are eligible for Child Tax Credits for when your baby is born, though there is a chance that they have already been absorbed into the Universal Credit payment in your area, or will be some time in 2017.
If still applicable, these credits are a brilliant boost to income and are paid into your bank account on a regular basis.
How much money you receive depends on your circumstances, but you can get credits even if you work; in fact, if you work you may be eligible for Child Tax Credits AND Working Tax Credits.
To find out exactly what you’re entitled to, and if these tax credits still apply in your area, go to Gov.uk and use their tax credits calculator.
9. Childcare Vouchers
If you work, have a chat with your employer and see if they are signed up to the Childcare Voucher scheme, or if they offer any other childcare-related schemes (such as nursery or crèche facilities).
If you decide on Childcare Vouchers, you can choose to have them as part of your salary up to a value of £2,916 a year. If you accept these, you do not have to pay any National Insurance Contributions or tax on that amount, potentially saving yourself around £300 a year.
10. Child Benefit
Last, but not least, all parents who have their main residence in the UK are eligible for Child Benefit.
So once your baby is born, get your form in as quickly as possible, as the Government will only backdate child benefit payments up to 90 days.
Child benefit entitles you to £20 a week for your eldest child and £13.20 a week for any other children that follow.
Keep in mind that if you or your partner has an individual income of more than £50,000, you may lose all or some of your Child Benefit because of the high-income Child Benefit tax charge, but it’s worth applying anyway.
We have hopefully answered your questions about what you are entitled to when you have a baby.
However, there are voluntary organisations, such as Citizens Advice and single parents’ charity Gingerbread who can help you find the right forms to fill out and tell you where to send them. The GOV.UK website is also a great resource to find out exactly what you are entitled to.
Now it’s Over to You!
Did you claim any of these benefits when you were pregnant? Do you think more should be done to help pregnant women and new parents financially? We’d love to hear from you!