What benefits can I claim when I'm pregnant or have a baby?

What benefits can I claim when I’m pregnant?

Free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment

What is it?

  • Free NHS dental care in the UK while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born.
  • In England, you qualify for free prescriptions while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born.
  • In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you qualify for free prescriptions at all times (whether or not you're pregnant).

Who gets it?

All women who are pregnant or who gave birth less than a year ago.

How to claim

Fill out the Maternity Exemption form (FW8) – available from your doctor or midwife.

What benefits can I claim if I’m working and having a baby?

What is it?

Regardless of how long you’ve been in your job, you have a right to paid time off from work to go to your antenatal appointments.

This time off is as well as your annual leave.

Antenatal care includes:

  • medical and midwife appointments
  • doctor-recommended appointments – for example, relaxation or parenting classes.

Your time off should include travel time to and from each appointment.

The baby’s father or your partner (this includes same-sex partners) are entitled to take unpaid time off work to go with you to two of your antenatal appointments. The maximum time is capped at six hours and 30 minutes for each appointment.

Who gets it?

Employed pregnant women.

How to claim

Tell your employer when your antenatal appointments are happening. Try to give them as much notice as you can to help with work planning.

It might be a good idea to go during quiet times at work, or outside working hours if you can.

Find out more about paid time off for antenatal care:

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Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay

What is Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay?

When you have a baby, you’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave and pay from your employer for up to 39 weeks while you’re on leave, if you’re eligible.

Who gets it?

Employed pregnant women.

To get Statutory Maternity Pay you must have:

  • average earnings of at least £120 per week, and
  • been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks.

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

You get Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks of your 52-week maternity leave.

The table below shows how much Statutory Maternity Pay is in the 2021/22 tax year:

Statutory Maternity Leave
Statutory Maternity Pay

The first six weeks

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

The next 33 weeks

£151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less

The next 13 weeks (if taken)

Unpaid

How to claim

To get maternity leave, you need to tell your employer when you want to stop working by the 15th week before the baby’s due date.

You need to give your employer at least 28 days’ notice that you want to start Statutory Maternity Pay and give them proof you’re pregnant.

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Maternity Allowance

What is Maternity Allowance?

A fortnightly or monthly payment from the government if you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay.

Who gets it?

Pregnant women and new mums who can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay because:

  • you haven’t worked for your employer for long enough
  • you’re self-employed
  • your average pay is less than £120 per week.

How much is Maternity Allowance?

The amount you get is based on how much you earn.

Depending on your earnings, in the 2021/22 tax year you could get either:

  • £151.97 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is less – for up to 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for up to 14 weeks.

How to claim

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, call 0800 055 6688 or fill in the Maternity Allowance (MA1) claim form on the GOV.UK website

If you live in Northern Ireland, call 02890 823 318 for a form or download one from the nidirect website

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Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

What is Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay?

One or two weeks’ paid time off work so you can help look after your new baby.

Who gets it?

You must be:

  • the child’s biological father or adopter
  • the mother’s partner
  • the intended parent – if you’re having a baby through surrogacy.

You must also:

  • have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due
  • be employed by your employer until the baby is born
  • earn at least £120 a week.

There are different rules if you adopt:

  • If you live in England, Ireland or Scotland, find out more on the GOV.UK website
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, find out more at nidirect

How much is Statutory Paternity Pay

You get Statutory Paternity Pay for one or two weeks of your paternity leave.

In the 2021/22 tax year, you’ll get £151.97 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

How to claim

Give your employer form SC3 at least 15 weeks before the week the baby is due:

  • If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, get the form SC3 on the GOV.UK website
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, download the form SC3 from nidirect
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There are different rules if you adopt:

  • If you live in England, Ireland or Scotland, find out more on the GOV.UK website
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, find out more on NI Direct

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

What is Shared Parental Leave and Pay?

Up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay shared with your partner, if you’re eligible.

Who gets it?

You can get Statutory Shared Parental Pay if you’re employed and you’re eligible for either:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay and your partner is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay.

Before either parent can get Shared Parental Leave or Pay the mother (or the person getting adoption leave) must either:

  • return to work, which ends any maternity or adoption leave, or
  • give their employer ‘binding notice’ of the date when they plan to end their leave (you cannot normally change the date you give in binding notice).

How much is Statutory Shared Parental Pay?

In the 2021/22 tax year, you’ll get £151.97 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

How to claim

You must give notice to your employer in writing if you want Statutory Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, there are downloadable forms you can use to give notice on the GOV.UK website

If you live in Northern Ireland, go to nidirect

Find out more about Statutory Shared Parental Leave and Pay on the GOV.UK website

Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

What is Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay?

When you adopt or have a child through surrogacy, you’re entitled to a year off work and up to 39 weeks’ Statutory Adoption Pay.

Who gets it?

Only one person in a couple can take adoption leave and pay. The other person could be eligible for paternity leave and pay. 

You must be an employee and have been:

  • working for your employer for 26 weeks by the time you’re matched with a child, or by the 15th week before the baby is due
  • earning an average of at least £120 a week.

How much is Statutory Adoption Pay?

You get Statutory Adoption Pay for up to 39 weeks of your Statutory Adoption Leave.

The table below shows how much Statutory Adoption Pay is in the 2021/22 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave
Statutory Adoption Pay

The first six weeks

90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

The next 33 weeks

£151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less

The next 13 weeks (if taken)

Unpaid

How to claim

Tell your employer you want to take adoption leave and when you want it to start.

You should tell them within seven days of being told by the adoption agency you’ve been matched with a child.

If you use a surrogate to have a baby, tell your employer the due date and when you want to start your leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

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Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is a payment from the government to help top up your earnings if you work and are on a low income. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.

If you're making a new claim you now have to apply for Universal Credit instead of Working Tax Credit.

If you’re already claiming Working Tax Credit and are having a baby, this might qualify as a change in circumstances. You’ll have to tell HMRC about this change – and you might be asked to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

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What benefits can I claim if I’m not working or on a low income?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is being replaced by Universal Credit. This means you have to claim Universal Credit instead.

But if you’ve made enough National Insurance contributions, you might qualify for New Style Employment and Support Allowance. If you need extra support with other costs – for example, your rent or bringing up children, you might be able to claim Universal Credit alongside New Style ESA.

Income Support

You now have to make a new claim for Universal Credit instead of Income Support.

If you don't qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay, are unemployed and can’t look for work, or on a low income, you might be able to claim Universal Credit while you’re pregnant.

Use the benefits calculator from Turn2us to see what you might qualify for.

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Sure Start Maternity Grant

What is the Sure Start Maternity Grant?

A one-off £500 payment from the Social Fund to help with the cost of your baby.

If you live in Scotland, this has been replaced with the Best Start Grant (see below).

Who gets the Sure Start Maternity Grant?

You’ll get the grant if your new baby is the only child under 16 in your family and you or your partner get one of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than the family element
  • Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element.

There are more rules if you’re adopting or becoming a surrogate parent.

Find out more on the GOV.UK website

How to claim?

If you live in England or Wales, fill in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form on the GOV.UK website

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can download a claim pack from the nidirect website

Find out more about the Sure Start Maternity Grant on the GOV.UK website

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods (Scotland only)

Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods provide lower-income families with financial support during the key early years of a child’s life

Who gets it?

If you’re under 18, you can apply for Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods – even if you’re not receiving any payments or benefits.

If you’re over 18, you can apply if you’re getting any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit.

You can’t get a Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if you only get Child Benefit.

Income limits also apply if you want to claim Best Start Foods.

Find out more about the Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and income limits on the mygov.scot website

How much is the Best Start Grant?

The Pregnancy and Baby Payment element is:

  • £600 for a first baby and £300 for a new baby if you have older children living with you
  • £300 for any subsequent children
  • The Early Learning Payment will be £250 per child

The School Age Payment will be £250 per child.

(2021/22 figures)

What is Best Start Foods?

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card to buy healthy foods for children under three. It can be used online or in shops. You will get:

  • £17 every four weeks during pregnancy
  • £34 every four weeks from when your child is born until they’re one year old
  • £17 every four weeks between the ages of one and three.

(2021/22 figures)

How to claim

You can apply for Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods online, by phone or by filling out the paper form.

To find out more about applying for Best Start Grant and Foods on the mygov.scot website

Healthy Food Scheme and Health Start Vouchers (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

What are Healthy Start food vouchers?

Weekly vouchers for free:

  • milk – plain cow’s milk, whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed pasteurised, sterilised, long-life or ultra-heat treated (UHT)
  • plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula
  • vitamins – pregnant women, women with a child under 12 months and children aged up to four years who are receiving Healthy Start vouchers are entitled to free Healthy Start vitamins – one bottle every eight weeks.

Who gets it?

You’ll get the vouchers if you’re at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four and you and your family get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit – if your family’s income is £16,190 or less and you’re not getting Working Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit – if you’re receiving Working Tax Credit run-on. A run-on might be paid to you in the four weeks after you’ve stopped working enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if your household is earning £408 or less a month
  • Working Tax Credit run-on. This is the payment you receive for four weeks after you’ve stopped working for 16 hours or more each week (single adults)
  • Pension Credit.

You also qualify for Healthy Start Food Vouchers if you’re not getting one of these benefits yourself but you live with your partner and they get the benefit.

If you’re under 18 and pregnant, you can also get Healthy Start vouchers – even if you don’t get any of the benefits listed above.

How much are Healthy Start food vouchers?

  • pregnant women and children aged one to four get £4.25 a week
  • children under one get £8.50 a week.

(2021/22 figures)

How to claim

Speak to your midwife, health visitor or doctor, or call Healthy Start on 0345 607 6823.

Are you claiming Universal Credit and are pregnant or have a child under four years old? Then it’s worth finding out more about the Healthy Start scheme. Call Healthy Start on 0345 607 6823.

Find out more about their Food Vouchers on the Healthy Start website

Help with school transport

You might be able to get help with the costs of your child’s school transport. This depends on how far you live from the school, the age of the child and any disabilities.

You might be able to get extra support if you’re on a low income or claiming benefits.

If you live in England or Wales, you can check your eligibility on your local council’s website. Find your local council on the GOV.UK website

If you live in Northern Ireland, visit the Education Authority website

If you live in Scotland, go to the mygov.scot website

What benefits can I claim when I’ve had a baby?

Child Benefit

What is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is a regular payment of money from the government to help with the cost of raising a child.

Only one person can claim Child Benefit – and you can claim for every child you’re responsible for.

Who gets it?

Anyone responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in education or training).

How much is Child Benefit?

The rates for the 2021/22 tax year are:

  • £21.15 a week for the eldest or only child
  • £14.00 a week for each additional child.

How to claim

If either of you earns over £50,000 a year

If either you or your partner has an income of more than £50,000 a year, you’ll have to pay back some or all your Child Benefit in the form of extra Income Tax. But it could still be worth applying to help protect your state pension.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit has been replaced by Universal Credit for all new claims. You may be able to claim the child element of UC for up to two children until they reach the age of 19 (or 20 in some cases) and are in full-time approved education or training – not at university.

If you’re already getting Child Tax Credit, you’ll need to tell HMRC when the baby’s born and you might be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you have three or more children, you can claim for all of them if they were born before 6 April 2017.

You usually won’t be able to claim Universal Credit for third or subsequent babies, except in limited circumstances, including a multiple birth, adopting or becoming a kinship carer.

Find out more on the Working Families website

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What benefits can I claim if I’m studying?

Have you had a baby and are at college or university? Then you could qualify for financial help. This could cover everything from living expenses and learning costs to travel and childcare grants.

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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