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Ultimate Guide to Maternity Benefits and Grants in the UK

Raising a child is becoming expensive. Research shows that raising a child to 18 in a single-parent family costs £185,000. For couples, the cost of raising a child is £151,000 until the child is 18 year.

Half of what parents are earning in the UK goes towards childcare. Since 2008, the cost of raising a child has risen four times than the growth of wages. Fortunately, single-parent families and couples have the option of maternity benefits and grants.

Want to learn more about maternity benefits and grants in the UK? in this guide, we discuss maternity benefits and grants in the UK.

For Working Mums…

Working mums can claim several benefits and grants in the UK.

Paid Time off From Work

Working mums have the right to paid time off from work. The time off is in addition to the working mum’s annual leave, and it offers an opportunity to go for antenatal appointments. Antenatal care usually involves the following…

  • Parenting classes
  • Relaxation classes
  • Medical and midwife appointments

The time off also includes the travel time for your appointments. The father or your civil partner is also entitled to take unpaid time off to accompany you to two of your antenatal appointments. Each appointment is usually capped at 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Want to know how to claim paid time off for antenatal care? Inform your employer that you’re due for antenatal appointments. It’s essential to give your employer a week’s notice. This will help with work planning. We recommend requesting for paid time off during outside working hours or quiet times at work.

Learn more about paid time off for antenatal care.

Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

Working mums can also claim statutory maternity leave and pay. This is valid for a year, and your employer pays you for up to 39 weeks while you’re on leave. To claim your statutory maternity pay, you need to fulfil the following requirements:

  • Must be working for your employers for at least 26 weeks
  • Your average earnings should be at least £120 a week

To claim your statutory maternity leave and pay, inform your employer that you want to stop working by the 15th week before the baby is due. We recommend giving your employer at least 28 days’ notice. Don’t forget to offer proof of pregnancy.

Learn more about Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay.

Maternity Allowance

For working mums who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, they can claim Maternity Allowance. Working mums can claim Maternity Allowance once they learn they are pregnant for 26 weeks. Payment usually starts 11 weeks before the baby is due.

Working mums need to know that the amount they get will depend on eligibility. Here is what working mums can receive…

  • £27 a week for 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for 14 weeks
  • 90% of your average weekly earnings or £151.20 a week

Use this Maternity Entitlement Calculator to know how much you could get. The Maternity Allowance is usually paid every 2 or 4 weeks straight into your building society, credit union or bank account.

You ought to know that your Maternity Allowance will not affect your tax credits. But it may affect how much you receive for…

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Bereavement Benefits
  • Universal Credit

If you were receiving the Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’d stop receiving this amount once you start receiving the MA. To claim your Maternity Allowance, fill in the MA1 claim form.

Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

You are also eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be adopting a child
  • Be having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement
  • Be having a baby

The Statutory Paternity Leave lasts for 1 to 2 weeks, and it’s the same duration even when the couple has more than one child. It’s important to know that Paternity Leave cannot start before birth. The start date of the Paternity Leave must be one of the following…

  • An agreed number of days after childbirth
  • An agreed number of days after childbirth expected week
  • Actual date of birth

Statutory Paternity Leave must finish within 56 days of childbirth. Eligible employees can receive £151.20 a week, or 90% of their weekly earnings. National Insurance and Tax are usually not deducted. To claim the Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay…

  • Download Form SC3 at least 15 weeks before childbirth
  • Fill in the details
  • Give your employer the form

Learn more about Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave.

Shared Paternal Leave and Pay

You can get Shared Paternal Leave and Pay if you adopted a child or had a baby. To qualify for Shared Paternity Leave and Pay, you must share the responsibility of the child with one of the following:

  • Civil partner
  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Child’s other parent

You must also be eligible for Maternity Allowance, Maternity Pay and Leave or Adoption Pay and Leave. To qualify…

  • Give correct notice
  • Have been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks before qualifying week
  • Still employed before taking Shared Paternal Leave

To claim the Shared Paternal Leave and Pay, you must give notice to your employer in writing. Alternatively, one can download the Shared Paternal Leave and Pay form.

Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

If you have a child through a surrogacy arrangement or adopting a child, you’re eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay. Usually, an employee will get 39 weeks pay. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be an employee
  • Have worked for your employer for 26 weeks
  • Must be earning an average of £120 a week

To claim your Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay, inform your employer within seven days that you got matched with a child. If you have a child through a surrogacy arrangement, inform your employer the due date plus when you want to start your leave. This is usually 15 weeks before childbirth.

Within 7 days of getting matched with a child, tell your employer the following:

  • Your leave start date
  • How much leave you need
  • Date of placement

You must give your employer proof of adoption to qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay. The proof must show the following…

  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of adoption agency
  • Match date
  • Placement date
  • UK authority’s official notification confirming you’re allowed to adopt

Learn more about Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay.

Not Working but on a Low Income…

If you’re not working but are on a low income, you can receive benefits and grants in the UK.

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit for those with a disability affecting their work ability. When you apply for the allowance, you’ll receive:

  • Support to start working (if able to)
  • Money to offset your living costs (if unable to work)

Wondering how much you can get? Well, it all depends on what stage your application is at plus your age and other factors. If you are eligible for new style ESA, you’ll earn Class 1 National Insurance credits. This will help you towards your State Pension and other benefits.

Normally, you’ll receive the assessment rate for 13 weeks. This will be…

  • Up to £74.35 a week if 25 years or over
  • Up to £58.90 a week if under 25 years

Once you’re assessed, the government can place you into one of two groups. If able to get to work in the future, you’ll be in the work-related activity group. If unable to get to work in the future, you’ll be in the support group. As such, you’ll now receive…

  • Up to £113.55 a week (if in the support group)
  • Up to £74.35 a week (if in work-related activity group)

You’ll receive your ESA pay every 2 weeks. All benefits are usually paid into your building society, credit union or bank account.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

The Sure Start Maternity Grant is a benefit you can receive to help towards the costs of having a baby. This grant is available to those who are expecting their first child or multiple births. You can also receive the grant if given refugee status, humanitarian protection or have a child aged 16 and under before arriving in the UK.

If you’ve one child or twins, you’ll receive £500, and if you have triplets, you’ll get £1000. You may also receive the grant if becoming a surrogate parent or adopting. The baby must be aged a year on the date you claim.

Usually, there must be no other children in your family to qualify for the Sure Start Maternity Grant. You and your partner must be receiving one of the following benefits.

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support

To claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant, do so 11 weeks before the week the baby is due. The latest should be 6 months after childbirth. If adopting a child, you must claim the grant within 6 months of the placement date. Here is how to claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

  • Print out the Sure Start Maternity Grant SF100 claim form
  • Fill in the details
  • Get a midwife or doctor to fill in page 10 of the form
  • Post the form to “Freepost DWP SSMG

If you live in Northern Ireland, there is a different form and postal address. For those living in Scotland, you cannot get the Sure Start Maternity Grant. But you can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

Healthy Start Free Vouchers

Healthy Start is a voucher scheme for mothers with young children. It helps mothers buy basic food supplies such as milk, fruits, vegetables, and instant formula milk. Mothers can also receive free vitamins. The vitamins are usually offered to pregnant women, women with a child under 12 months, and a child aged 4 years.

To qualify for Healthy Start food vouchers, you must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four. You must also be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit

If you’re not getting the benefits above, you may qualify for Healthy Start food vouchers if you live with a partner entitled to these benefits. For pregnant women and children under four, they’ll receive £3.10 per week, and for children under one, they’ll get £6.20 a week.

To claim Healthy Start food vouchers…

  • Get an application leaflet
  • Fill in Part A of the application form
  • Use black ink and capital letters
  • Leave Part B blank unless you’re pregnant and need to complete your estimated due date
  • Sign Part A and Section 7
  • Review the form to ensure the information is correct. Send the form to the Healthy Start Issuing Unit.

Learn more about Healthy Start Vouchers.

Scottish Child Payment…

Scottish Child Payment is a payment that helps in supporting your family. The weekly amount of £10 is often given for every child under 6 years of age in your care. You can choose to spend the money on childcare, family days out, travel costs, baby nappies and other essentials. Usually, you’ll receive the payment every four weeks if your application is successful.

You ought to know that only one person can receive the Scottish Child Payment for a child. This means that if two parents apply for the same child’s payment, the Social Security Scotland will decide who receives the payment. The Scottish Child Payment does not affect any other Scottish or UK government benefits you are getting.

Before applying for the Scottish Child Payment, you’ll need…

  • Your partner’s details
  • Date of birth of your child
  • Your bank details

You can apply for the payment online by completing a form. It takes around 10 to 20 minutes to do so. Besides online, you can apply by phone. All you need to do is call Social Security Scotland toll free number to make your application. Lastly, you can fill a paper form and send the documents to Social Security Scotland.

Learn more How to apply for the Scottish Child Payment.

Other Benefits…

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is money from the government to cover the cost of raising a child. Only one person can claim the benefit, and it goes to the parent responsible for bringing up a child who is…

  • Under 16
  • Under 20 and in approved training or education

The payment is often paid every 4 weeks, and there is no limit on how many children you can claim for. There are two Child Benefit rates. For the eldest or only child, you’ll receive £21.05. For additional children, you will get £13.95 per child. You can have the money paid into any account besides the Nationwide Cashbuilder account.

If your child is under 12 and you’re not earning enough to pay National Insurance contributions or are not working, Child Benefits will give you National Insurance credits. These credits will go towards your State Pension. This eliminates gaps in your National Insurance record.

If your family splits up, you’ll get £21.05 a week for the eldest child. If you’ve two children, and one stays with your ex-partner while the other stays with you, you’ll both receive £21.05 a week for each child.

To claim Child Benefit, fill in form CH2 then send it to the Child Benefit Office. If you adopted your child, send the original adoption certificate with form CH2.

Learn more about Child Benefit.

Free Prescriptions and NHS Dental Care for Pregnant Women…

Pregnant women in the UK can receive free prescriptions and NHS dental care. NHS Dental care is free while you’re pregnant and for a year after childbirth. For prescriptions, it depends on where you live. In England, you could save £9.15 by getting free prescriptions. All you need is a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate.

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, prescriptions are free for all. To claim the free prescription and NHS Dental Care, get the Maternity Exemption application form FW8 from your midwife or doctor. They will fill in your details, sign the form and send it for you. After a couple of days, you should receive a certificate in the post.

Every time you visit your local pharmacy, show the certificate to the pharmacist, and you’ll get a free prescription. On certain occasions, the certificate may not arrive in time. You have the option of claiming a refund if you paid before the certificate arrives or ask for form FP57 or FP64 from your pharmacist or dentist.

When you’re pregnant, making a dental care appointment is important. This is because you’re more likely to have sensitive teeth and gums. Getting checked might help with discomfort. Also, it makes sense to see the dentist while it’s free.

In England, you can save £22.70 by booking an appointment now, which you would normally pay for a check-up. The costs can go up to £269 for expensive treatments such as crowns. In Wales, you can save £14.40 when you book an appointment now or £199 for expensive treatments such as a bridge.

If you live in Northern Ireland or Scotland and are not eligible for free dental treatment, you must pay 80% of the dental treatment cost. This is usually capped at £384.

Learn more about healthy things you should know in pregnancy.

Final Thoughts

Having a baby is exciting, physically satisfying and rewarding. But it can be expensive. The good news is, expectant mothers and parents can receive support from the government to help with their expenses.

The UK government offers numerous benefits and grants. They include paid time off, statutory maternity leave, maternity allowance and child benefit. Expectant mothers and parents can receive up to £500 to cover the cost of having children. Because it’s cash payment, you can choose how to spend the money.

These benefits and grants do not affect other benefits or your tax credits.