Having a child is an expensive business with the cost of childcare potentially being the highest element. There are however a number of benefits available which can help with the costs of bringing up a child. These are ever changing and will depend on your income and that of your partner. The following is a basic summary of the benefits available and is offered as general advice only:
Please refer to our page on Childcare Vouchers for further details and information.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
The Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500 for your first baby. It is payable per baby (so if you have twins, you will get £1000). You are only entitled to get it if you are getting a “qualifying benefit”. In other words if you are receiving one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance name
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element
- Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award
You must also have responsibility for the child. You must make your claim within certain time limits. The earliest you can claim is 11 weeks before your baby is due and the latest is before your baby is 3 months old.
You can apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant on form SF100, which you can get from the Jobcentre Plus office, the DWP website (www.dwp.gov.uk), or our ante-natal clinic. Your midwife or other health professional must sign the back of the form to confirm that you have received health and welfare advice about your pregnancy and baby. As tax credits are based on your previous year’s income, you may need to get a tax credit award to show that you are entitled to receive the grant.
Healthy Start Vouchers
If you are on a low income, you are entitled to receive Healthy Start vouchers whilst you are pregnant or if you have a child under 4. The vouchers can be used towards the cost of milk, vegetables and fruit and are worth £3.10 per week. You will get one voucher whilst you are pregnant, two whilst your baby is under one and one whilst your child is between 1 and 4.
Claim on the form in the Healthy Start leaflet (HS01) from your health centre.
Most families can claim Child Benefit. however for those individuals earning over £50,000 per annum it is subject to an income tax charge.
There are two tax credits: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Tax credits are payments made to people with children with lower household incomes. The amount of a tax credit award depends entirely on income levels and personal circumstances.
From 6 April 2012, the income limit for you will depend on your own situation. However, you might not be able to get Child Tax Credit from 6 April 2012 if:
- you have one child, and your annual income is more than around £26,000
- you have two children, and your annual income is more than around £32,200
You can usually claim Child Tax Credit for:
- a new baby
- any child who lives with you, until 31 August after their 16th birthday
- children under 20, if they’re in certain types of education or training name
If you have a baby, your payments can be backdated to when the baby was born – but only if you claim within three months. For example, if your baby was born on 1 January but your claim is received on 1 June, you’ll only be paid from 1 March. Only one household can get Child Tax Credit for a child. You might look after a child who sometimes lives with you and sometimes lives with someone else. You can’t both get Child Tax Credit for the same child, so you’ll have to decide who should get it. You can’t claim Child Tax Credit if your child doesn’t live with you at all – even if you’re paying maintenance.
If you work you may also get Working Tax Credit. This could include an extra payment to help with any childcare costs. An application for one tax credit is an application for both.
Where a part of either award is related to childcare costs you must use registered or approved childcare. This can include nurseries, childminders, foster carers, out of school hours clubs and nannies. You can get help with up to 70 per cent of your childcare costs – up to certain limits.
Tax credits awards are based on the previous years income levels and if you are overpaid you will be required to pay it back. It is important that you report any change in circumstances or income as soon as possible.
By 2017 all tax credit payments will be included in the new Universal Credit scheme that is currently undergoing trial periods in a number of areas.
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