Money when you are expecting, or have just had, a baby
Last updated: 20/04/2021
What benefits and other money you’ll have to live on when you are pregnant, or have just had a baby, depends on your circumstances before you became pregnant. Below is an overview of the financial support you may get in different circumstances.
Child benefit is payable from the day your baby is born.
Child benefit is an amount paid by the Government to parents for dependent children or young people. A dependent child is one who usually lives with you and is under 16 years of age. A young person is someone who usually lives with you and is in full time non-advanced education, school for example, up until the age of 20. You cannot split child benefit for one child even if you share their care with someone else.
Child benefit rates:
First child: £21.15
Second and subsequent children: £14.00
If your income is more than £50,000 p/a you will pay more income tax if you receive child benefit. This is known as the High-Income Child Benefit Charge. If you earn more than £60,000 the whole amount of child benefit you receive will be added to your income tax. You can decide to stop receiving child benefit, but it is important to remember that child benefit protects your National Insurance record. If you choose to continue receiving child benefit, you must register for self-assessment with HM Revenue & Customs and fill in a tax return to declare the child benefit you receive.
You can apply for child benefit on form CH2 from HM Revenue & Customs. You will need to download the form and post it or call the Child Benefit Helpline for a copy.
Money if you are expecting your first baby and not working
If you already receive jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or housing benefit when you become pregnant you can continue to claim these until your baby is born. You will not be expected to do any of the work-related activity mentioned in your claimant commitment from 6 weeks before your baby is due. Once your baby is born you can claim universal credit or you can choose to claim it from 11 weeks before your baby is due. You cannot get your old benefits once your baby is born. Your jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance and any housing benefit will stop when you claim universal credit.
The advantage of claiming universal credit before your baby is born (rather than continuing to claim jobseekers allowance or employment and support allowance) is that you will not have any work-related activity from 11 weeks before your due date (rather than 6 weeks) but you should get advice before you decide to do this as you could be financially worse off.
If you are not receiving any benefits or help with rent, you can claim universal credit from 11 weeks before your baby is due.
If you are already getting universal credit 11 weeks before your baby is due you will continue to get it once your baby is born and can claim an extra amount for your baby.
You can also get child benefit for your baby.
Universal credit provides financial support, for living expenses and housing, to working age people both in and out of work. It has replaced income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, income related employment and support allowance, child tax credit, working tax credit and housing benefit. Although many people are still receive these benefits you cannot make a new claim for them so have to apply for universal credit instead.
If you are getting income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, income related employment and support allowance, child tax credit, working tax credit or housing benefit you will be sent a letter asking you to claim universal credit instead. If your circumstances change before then you may have to apply for universal credit earlier.
Having your first baby will trigger a move to universal credit if you are not already receiving it.
Money if you are expecting, or just had a baby, and you are working
If you are working when you become pregnant you may be able to claim a benefit called maternity allowance or get statutory maternity pay from your employer.
If you are already receiving tax credits you can continue to do so and get an extra amount for your new baby.
If you are not getting tax credits you may get universal credit to top up your maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay, to help with rent and to pay for registered childcare.
You can apply for universal credit 11 weeks before your baby is due and get help with childcare costs for any registered childcare you use while you are on maternity leave.
The amount you get is based on your income including maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay.
You may also get child benefit for your baby.
If you are ill and getting Statutory Sick Pay while you are pregnant it will stop 4 weeks before the date your baby is due if the illness is related to your pregnancy or on the day your baby is born if you are ill for another reason. You can then receive maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay. If you become ill within the 4 weeks before your baby is due it will trigger the start of maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay.
Statutory maternity pay
Statutory maternity pay is paid for 39 weeks by your employer. You’ll receive 90% of your average weekly earnings for six weeks followed by 33 weeks at £151.97 or 90% of earnings if this is less.
To qualify you must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due and have earned at least £120 per week (before tax) over the last eight weeks. Your employer arranges Statutory Maternity Pay and it will be paid to you in the same way as your wages.
Claim on form MA1 available from Jobcentre Plus:
0800 055 6688
or visit www.gov.uk
If you do not get statutory maternity pay from your employer you may be entitled to a benefit called maternity allowance. This could be the case if you are self-employed, changed your job during pregnancy, have just started a new job or are on a low income. Maternity allowance is paid for 39 weeks and you will receive 90% of your earnings, or £151.97 per week, whichever is less. To qualify you must have been working for any 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date. The 26 weeks do not have to be in a row or with the same employer. You must also have earned £30 per week or more. Your earnings are averaged over any 13 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due. You can choose the weeks with the highest earnings to maximise your maternity allowance. Add all your earnings from the 13 weeks and divide this total by 13 to obtain the average.
There are different rules for calculating earnings if you are self-employed. Seek specialist advice.
Lone Parent Helpline:
0808 801 0323
Money if you are expecting, or just had, another baby
The financial help you can get when you have a second or subsequent baby depends on if you are working or not, your earnings, any benefits you already get, the number of children you have and when they were born.
You may continue to receive the benefits you currently get or having another baby may mean you need to claim universal credit instead.
You can get child benefit for a second or subsequent child but may not get universal credit for then if you already have two or more children. If working you may get statutory maternity pay from your employer or get maternity allowance.
Contact the Lone Parent Helpline for information on your specific circumstances.
Money if you are under 16 and have had a baby
Young people under 16 cannot claim benefits that give money to live on, however if you have had a baby, you can get child benefit even if you are still at school. Your parents or guardians can still get child benefit and any other benefits, such as child tax credit or universal credit for you. They can also claim these benefits for your new baby too.
Once you are 16 you can claim universal credit for yourself and your baby and any benefits your parents were receiving for you and your baby will stop.
It may be worthwhile getting advice about what benefits you can get, and when, so you can make the best financial decisions for you and your family.
Contact student services at your college/university or call the Lone Parent Helpline:
0808 801 0323
Money if you are expecting, or just had a baby, and are in education or training
If you are considering starting or continuing an educational or training course while pregnant, or after your baby is born, financial support is available. The amount of help you receive will depend on the course you want to study. It is a complex area and you should seek information before committing yourself to a course of study.
Money when you have a miscarriage, your baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth
If your pregnancy ends before 24 weeks and your baby is not born alive (miscarriage) you are not entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. You may get statutory sick pay if you are working and also time off work to recover.
If your baby is born on or after your 24th week of pregnancy and is not born alive (still born) or is born alive before your 24th week of pregnancy even if your baby only lives for a very short time, you are entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance and also maternity leave providing you meet the qualifying criteria.
For more details contact the Child Maintenance Options Service:
Financial support from your baby’s other parent
The other parent of your child has a responsibility to pay child maintenance. It does not matter if the other parent intends to keep in touch with your baby or if their name is on the birth certificate or not. The amount you get is based on the other parent’s income and the number of children they already have. Child maintenance does not affect any benefits or tax credits.