What help are you entitled to after pregnancy?
Published 11 March 2016 by Kyri Levendi
To help you cope with the cost of raising a child, you can receive certain benefits and help from the Government.
We’ve already taken you through the help you could receive before your baby is born – and you’ll be glad to know that this doesn’t stop once you’ve given birth. To make sure you’re aware of what help’s available, we’re going to take you through the financial support you could receive after your baby is born.
Missed out on our pregnancy benefits post? Catch up with what you could be entitled to when you’re pregnant here.
If you’re employed, you could be entitled to a year’s maternity leave and pay from your employer for up to 39 weeks. To be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) you must have been working for your current employer for a minimum of 26 weeks and earned on average at least £112 per week.
Based on the 2015-16 tax year, SMP is broken down in the following way:
For the first six weeks: you’ll receive 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
For the next 33 weeks: you’ll receive £139.58 or 90% of your weekly earnings (whichever is less)
The next 13 weeks: you won’t be paid
This doesn’t mean your employer definitely won’t give you any more than this – this is just the legal minimum they have to pay you. They might have a policy to pay more than the minimum, so it’s worth checking in your contract for details of this.
You should inform your employer when you want to stop working by the 15th week before the baby’s due date and give them at least 28 days’ notice when you want to start your maternity pay.
New rules brought in last April mean that you can now share your maternity leave with your partner in the form of Shared Parental Leave. To find out more about this and whether you’ll be eligible, read our blog.
If you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay, you could receive Maternity Allowance every fortnight or month. You will be eligible for this if your average pay is less than £112 a week, you’re self-employed, or you’ve not worked at your employer for long enough (26 weeks).
The amount that you receive will be based on what you earn. In the tax year 2015-2016 you could get £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings for up to 39 weeks, or £27 per week for up to 14 weeks.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
You could receive a one-off-payment of £500 from Sure Start to help with the cost of raising your baby, if the new baby is the only child in your family under the age of 16, and you or your partner receive the following benefits:
• Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Universal Credit
• Pension Credit
• Child Tax Credit (at a higher rate than the family element)
• Working Tax Credit (includes disability or server disability element)
To help with the cost of raising your child – which recent research has revealed can total £230,000 for 21 years – you can receive a regular payment from the government known as Child Benefit. You will receive this if you’re responsible for a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they’re in further education or training.
For the tax year 2015-2016, you will receive £20.70 per week for the eldest or only child, while for each additional child you’ll receive £13.70.
If you or your partner earn over £50,000 a year, then you’ll have to pay back some or potentially all of your Child Benefit in the form of additional Income Tax.
Child Tax Credit
If you’re on a low income or are claiming benefits then you may be able to claim Child Tax Credit. This is another annual payment that has the same requirements as Child Benefit but how much you receive will depend on your income, how many children currently live with you and whether your child has a disability.
After the Chancellor made a U-turn in the Autumn Statement, tax credits are no longer being cut any time soon but there are new rules being brought in. From April 2017, Child Tax Credits will be limited to the first two children (excluding multiple births) and you’ll no longer be able to claim the family element but you’ll still be able to claim the disabled child premium if applicable.
You won’t be affected by this if you already claim Child Tax Credits or Universal Credit and have more than two children.