Being a stay at home parent has advantages, but it can be tough financially. Fortunately, there is some financial support available that can ease the pressure and help to cover bills, food and other essential costs. Make sure you understand what benefits you’re entitled to and how to apply.
Maternity & paternity pay
If you’ve been in work, you should be entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance depending on your circumstances.
Statutory maternity leave & pay
You are entitled to take 52 weeks leave, but statutory pay only covers 39 weeks. The first six weeks should be at 90% of your average weekly earnings, and the following 33 weeks will be £148.68 per week or 90% of your earnings (whichever is lower).
Some employers pay higher rates and will cover maternity pay for the full year, but they don’t have to.
To claim statutory maternity pay, you need to provide your employer with proof of your pregnancy. This can be a letter from your doctor or midwife or a MATB1 certificate.
If you do not qualify for statutory maternity pay, you may be entitled to maternity allowance instead. This is likely to apply if:
- you haven’t worked for your employer for long enough
- you’re self-employed
- your average pay is less than £120 per week.
The government pays this, and you can claim by completing an MA1 claim form and posting it to the address on the form or taking it to your local Jobcentre Plus.
If you are unemployed and do not qualify for statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, you may be entitled to other benefits such as Universal Credit.
If your partner is having a baby and you are employed, you are entitled to up to two weeks statutory paternity leave with pay. You can apply for paternity leave through your employer. Some employers may offer extended leave and other paternity benefits.
Free dental care
When you are pregnant, and for one year after the birth of your child, you are entitled to free NHS dental care. This covers check-ups and essential treatments and surgeries, but not cosmetic procedures.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
If you live in England or Wales, you may be able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant when you have your first child. In Scotland, you may qualify for the Pregnancy and Baby payment instead.
You usually qualify for the Sure Start Maternity Grant if you are expecting your first child and you or your partner already receive certain benefits. It must be claimed within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or six months of the birth. This is a one-off payment of £500 that does not affect any other benefits and does not need to be paid back.
Child benefit is a small allowance that is paid into your account every four weeks. Only one parent can claim child benefit for each child, but there is no limit on how many children you can claim for.
The purpose of child benefit is to cover costs for essentials such as food, milk and nappies. For your first child, you could receive £20.70 per week, and for other children, you could receive £13.70. You can claim child benefit for all children under 16.
Healthy Start vouchers
Healthy Start vouchers can be used for milk, infant formula, plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and healthy start vitamins. You receive vouchers weekly and can exchange them at participating retailers.
You could be eligible if you are pregnant or have a child under age four and receive certain benefits. You can check your eligibility and find out how to apply on the Healthy Start website.
Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re over 18 and under State Pension age
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
The amount of Universal Credit you are entitled to is dependent on several factors and is paid monthly.
You can apply for Universal Credit online. If you live with your partner, you must apply at the same time (you do not have to be married).
If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you may also be able to get help paying for your housing.
A Housing Payment can be used toward:
- rent payment to a private landlord
- rent payment and some service charges if you rent from a housing association or local authority
- interest payments on your mortgage and some service charges if you or your partner own the property you live in
Cold weather payments
If you are unemployed or self-employed, receive Universal Credit and have a child under five living with you, then you may also receive cold weather payments. If you have a disabled child, then you may be eligible whether employed or not.
Cold weather payments are £25 for every seven days of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
Free school meals
If you are a low-income family or receive benefits, then your children may be entitled to free school meals. Each school will have its own process for how this is managed.
If you are separated from your child’s other parent (or you were never in a relationship), you should try and arrange child maintenance. Both parents are responsible for the child’s living costs, even if one parent does not live with them or have any contact.
You may be able to agree on a maintenance payment schedule directly with the other parent, but if this is not possible, you can get support through the Child Maintenance Service.
Care to learn
If you are a parent under the age of 20 and are still in education, you may be entitled to the Care to Learn benefit.
Care to Learn is only available if you are on a publicly funded course in England, which includes courses offered through schools, sixth-form colleges and children’s centres. This benefit is designed to help with the cost of childcare while you study.
Some local authorities, charities and organisations offer support or discounted services for stay at home parents, so it’s always worth doing a bit of research. Check your local council website, community centres and local directories to find out what’s available in your area.
About Morses Club
At Morses Club, we try and help our customers make their money stretch a little further by providing money-saving tips on our blog. There may be times when you need a little extra help covering an unexpected cost. That’s when one of our quick cash loans could help. A quick cash loan isn’t always the best option for everyone, so check out our how it works section to see if it is right for you.