It is well understood that at the point of having a new child, family incomes are likely to be particularly stretched, and that additional support is needed to give families assistance through this exciting – but very costly – time. In the UK, families with children ages 1-4 are the highest risk of poverty, with more than a third of children in a family with a very young child living below the poverty line.
This can be a financially difficult period from, as it were, both ends. Expenditure is pushed up because of buying all the extra essentials needed for a baby – from nappies to furniture.
Note: More than a third of children in families with a child under 5 live in poverty.
At the same time, incomes are squeezed because of parental leave, and reduced hours when parents return to work. This is, of course, is just one of the many pressures facing families with new children; pressures that should make this group a priority for the ‘family test’. In fact one of the questions for the family test is:
“What kind of impact will the policy have on families going through key transitions such as becoming parents, getting married, fostering or adopting, bereavement, redundancy, new caring responsibilities or the onset of a long-term health condition?”
Child Support in the UK
With this in mind, it is unsurprising that in recent years there has been some extra support in the benefits system for families with new children. This includes the Sure Start Maternity Grant (a one-off grant of £500 to help with the cost of new child), a Health in Pregnancy Grant (of £190) to help expectant mothers to eat health during pregnancy, and the baby element of Child Tax Credit (£545), which provided additional support through the Tax credit system for the first year of a child’s life. Such extra support also included the Child Trust Fund, which provided a £500 savings voucher for children in low-income families. This provided a small nest egg for children, so that when they grew up they would have some savings with which to start their adult life.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
This government grant is available to help low-income families towards the cost of a new baby. A one-off payment of £500 is available. The Sure Start Maternity Grant was introduced in 2000 for some groups on low incomes, and has been rapidly increased in amount since its introduction. This grant can be claimed at any time from the 29th week of pregnancy until the child is three months old, or within three months of an adopted baby reaching 12 months at the time for the claim.
Grant Eligibility Criteria
Mothers are eligible for the grant if either they or their partner are getting one of the following:
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credit where a disabled worker is included in the award
- Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the appropriate maximum family element
Note: Receiving the grant is contingent on receiving advice on the health needs and general welfare of the baby – and the mother’s health, if the claim is before the baby’s birth.
If you have a dependant who is under the age of 20, and you are receiving benefits for this dependant. You are eligible for a grant if the dependant is expecting a child.
Note: The grant amount is paid into the individuals’ bank account provided on the SF100 claim pack form.
What if you Already Having Children
If you have children under the age of 16, you are not eligible for the grant, unless you are expecting a multiple birth.
|Children under 16||Grant if you have twins||Grant if you have triplets|
|You have 1 or more (and none of them are from multiple births)||£500||£1,000|
|You’ve already had twins||£0||£500|
|You’ve already had triplets||£0||£0|
What if you’re Considering Adopting
You may also be eligible for a grant if you’re adopting or considering surrogacy. In order to receive the grant, you must be on one of the benefits mentions above, along with the following considerations:
- You takes complete responsibility for the baby
- You are appointed as the guardian by the relevant adoption agency
- The baby has been placed for under your care for adoption
- You have the relevant permission from the country of adoption
- You have a parental order for a surrogate birth
How to Make a Claim
Begin by applying for a Sure Start Maternity Grant. Contact your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office for a claim pack SF100 form. Once you complete the form submit it at your nearest Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. If your grant claim is successful you will get a letter telling you about the same.
Sure Start Maternity Grant Contact Number0800 055 6688
Note: A health professional must sign your SF100 claim form at the back of the form.
Help with the cost of Children’s schooling
Your children could eat free school meals if you get Child Tax Credit only – sometimes of you get Working Tax Credit as well. But it depends on the income your tax credits have been worked out on, and where you like in the UK.
If you get tax credits, you might be able to help towards the cost of school uniforms or activities such as school trips. You child could also get free school transport, for example if you’re on a low-income. But it’s important to know that the rules are different depending on where you live in the UK.