Expecting a baby
If you're expecting a baby or adopting a child, it's important to know how you can apply for financial help and find other sources of help for the wellbeing of you and your child.
Benefits and income-related support
If you are in work you and your partner may be entitled to paid time off (maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave). You can find more information about your rights and the amounts of pay you can expect on the Gov.uk website:
The Money Advice Service website offers a quick guide to the range of payments you may be entitled to depending on your circumstances. These include:
- Help with healthcare costs, such as free dental care and free prescriptions.
- Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits.
- Sure Start and Health Start grants
- Financial help if you are in education
If you need more help to understand benefits entitlements for you and your family, get in touch and an Orbit adviser will get back to you.
Looking after the health of you and your child
If you are pregnant your GP doctor and health visitor will discuss your pregnancy journey with you. You can also find information about pregnancy, birth and childcare on the NHS Choices website.
You may also be eligible for grants to help pay for vegetables, fruit and milk for you and your child. See the Healthy Start website for more details.
It's also important that you can talk to others when you need to. Some new parents can find they feel isolated with a new baby if they don't have family and friends nearby who can help.
- Online groups such as Mumsnet are a great starting point for connecting with other parents who have had similar experiences.
- You can also find lots of help and activities for you and your child at local children's centre. You can search online to find your nearest centres.
Help with childcare-related costs
Just buying the essentials for your child, let alone extra treats, can feel overwhelming. However there are ways you can minimise the amount you spend and some sources of financial help if you're struggling.
Reducing your households costs
Reviewing how much you are paying on energy bills and other household bills can help to free up some money for other costs. Find out more about reducing household bills.
If you intend to use a registered nursery or childminder to look after your child when you go to work, you employer may offer a childcare voucher scheme which can often be a good way of reducing the amount you pay for childcare. However, if you receive tax credits you should check if you'd be better off taking childcare vouchers or not as they may affect the amount of tax credit you receive. Use the Gov.uk better off calculator to help you decide.
Buying equipment and other items
The cost of equipment such as buggies, bedding and clothing can mount up, but you don't have to pay high street prices. You can find good quality nearly-new items, for example the National Childbirth Trust runs nearly new sales around the country and websites such as Netmums have listings for nearly-new items.
For your child's safety, it's important know what to check when buying used equipment and what to avoid altogether. Which provides a guide for checking used equipment and it is recommended that you should not buy second-hand car seats at all.
Some retailers and childcare product manufacturers and food producers offer ‘clubs’ that you can sign up to and receive free samples, discount offers and vouchers, such as Bounty. These ‘clubs’ should always be free and should not ask you for a monetary contribution.
Grants for essential equipment
If you are struggling with the costs of essential equipment for your child's safety and healthy development, there are sources of help:
- Sure Start Maternity Grants can be applied for within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within 3 months of the birth.
- Orbit has a range of grants that can help you and your family. Get in touch with Orbit and we can discuss your circumstances to find the right help and support for you.
Welfare Reform – Change to Child Tax Credit
From 6 April 2017 if you are responsible for a child born on or after this date, and already get Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for two or more other children, you may not receive any additional payments for the third or subsequent child.
This doesn't affect you if you receive Child Benefit, payments made for disabled children where Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been awarded or childcare, or if you are already receiving help for more than 2 children. This only affects you if you have a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017.
If you have two children, but are not claiming any benefits for an older child (as they may be over 16 and no longer in applicable full time education, or may have left home) then if you have another child on or after 6 April 2017 you can get the child element.
If you are not receiving either of these benefits currently and have to make a new claim, even if you have three or more children, if they were born before 6 April 2017 you will be able to get help for all your children. Your claim will be for tax credits, even if you live in an area where Universal Credit is in place for families.
The family element (or "first child premium" in Universal Credit) will also be abolished for families where the eldest child is born on or after 6 April 2017.
There are some exemptions for children born after 6 April 2017 such as multiple births, so for more information on exemptions please see https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/tax-credits-and-universal-credit-if-you-have-more-than-two-children/ or contact the advice services team via our self referral form here.