Becoming a parent is a life-altering experience that’s filled with immeasurable love and joy. However, with that being said, alongside that beautiful journey there are some concerns that many parents have – one of which is managing household finances with an extra member to budget for. This often leads parents to ask, “what benefits can I claim when I have a baby?”, and luckily for UK residents, the government provides a range of benefits and support systems to help parents navigate their way through parenthood.
We’re going to explore some of the benefits that are available to parents in the UK, but do note that there are some differences between the benefits systems in England, Scotland, and Wales.
What benefits can I claim when I have a baby in the UK?
The answer to “what benefits can I claim when I have a baby” depends on where you reside. For the purpose of this blog post, we’re going to be focusing on the benefits that the UK government provides parents of babies. Fortunately, there are several benefits that parents can claim, including:
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credits/Working Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
- Free NHS Dental Care and Prescriptions
- Maternity Leave
Let’s take a look at each of these benefits, in turn, to learn more about them and explore the eligibility criteria.
The first benefit and probably the most commonly talked about government help scheme is Child Benefit. When considering ‘what benefits can I claim when I have a baby?’, the very first one you should start claiming is Child Benefits.
This is a tax-free payment that is available to all parents, regardless of income or employment status. The beauty of this is that all parents are eligible to receive Child Benefits across England, Wales, and Scotland.
Child Tax Credits/Working Tax Credits
When wondering ‘what benefits can I claim when I have a baby?’, you may have been pointed in the direction of Child Tax Credits.
This benefit is designed to help low-income parents who may struggle financially when bringing a new baby home. The amount of money received will depend on the number of children you have and whether you’re making a new claim, or whether you’re already claiming. The good thing about Child Tax Credits is that your Child Benefit remains completely unaffected.
In order to claim Child Tax Credits, you must first be claiming Working Tax Credits. If you find that you’re not eligible for Child Tax Credits, you may be directed to Universal Credit instead.
You may have asked yourself ‘what benefits can I claim when I have a baby’ and become confused when pointed in the direction of Universal Credit.
Although Universal Credit are not explicitly designed for mothers and babies, they are a benefit that’s in place to help UK residents with the cost of living. In fact, Universal Credit is taking over the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you currently claim any of these benefits, you do not need to do anything unless stated. In order to claim Universal Credits, you need to either be out of work, working, or unable to work – for example a health condition.
You must also be under the state pension age and have less than £16,000 in money, savings, and investments.
Free NHS Dental Care and Prescriptions
You’ve probably been told when asking ‘what benefits can I claim when I have a baby?’ that you will be entitled to free NHS dental care and prescriptions. This is absolutely true!
NHS dental care is free in the UK whilst you’re pregnant and for a year after your baby is born. Prescriptions in England are free while you’re pregnant and for a year after the birth of your child if you have a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate (MatEx).
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for everyone, regardless of whether they’re pregnant or not.
We cannot discuss the answers to, ‘what benefits can I claim when I have a baby?’ without talking about maternity and paternity leave.
In the UK, mums are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. This statutory policy is designed to enable mothers to take time off work and care for their newborns, recover from childbirth, and form that all-important bond with their baby – all without worrying about financial pressures.
Fathers are also eligible to receive paid time off work in the form of paternity leave, paternity pay – or even both. This benefit provides new fathers with a chance to bond with their baby, help mum recover, and to adjust to the emotional and physical demands of becoming a new parent.
Paternity leave usually lasts for 1 – 2 weeks, although it is possible to get shared parental leave and pay by dividing the mother’s maternity pay between the parents.
Additional Financial Schemes You May Be Entitled To
As well as the benefits mentioned above, governments across England and Scotland have additional financial aid and schemes in place to help those who need it the most. In addition to the above benefits, you may also be entitled to some of the following:
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Best Start Food (Scotland Only)
- Healthy Start Scheme
- Best Start Grant – Pregnancy and Baby Payment (Scotland Only)
- Scottish Child Payment (Scotland Only)
- Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
Further Information Regarding Benefits
Before you are able to claim any of the benefits that have been mentioned in this post, you will need to prove that you are indeed pregnant, or have had a baby.
Your midwife will give you a MATB1 certificate when you’re within 20 weeks of your due date. This serves as proof that you’re pregnant and can be used to claim benefits as well as provide proof for your employer. In order to claim many of the benefits above, you will also need to provide a home address, phone number, and National Insurance number.
There are a number of benefits and schemes across the UK that provide support and financial aid to parents. Pregnant women are entitled to benefits as well as women who have given birth, and there is plenty of support available for new families. If you’re still unsure about benefit entitlement, I recommend heading over to the government website for more help and advice.