There are lots of benefits, tax credits and other sources of money available for young parents, but knowing what to claim can be difficult. If you're under 18 and still living at home, you may be better off if your parents or guardians claim benefits on your behalf.
I'm a young parent, what benefits can I get?
Income Support is a benefit for people on a low income to help them pay for their day-to-day living costs. If you are a lone parent aged 16 or over and have a child under 7 or are pregnant you may be entitled to Income Support. Your entitlement to Income Support will also depend on whether you are still at school or live with your parents.
You may also be entitled to Income Support before your baby is born, to help you during your pregnancy. To find out if you are eligible contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
You should contact your local JobCentre Plus and let them know that you're pregnant. You may even qualify for refunds for transport fares to and from hospital for antenatal and postnatal care.
Child Tax Credit
If you are 16 or over you can get Child Tax Credit if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16.
If you are under 16 yourself and responsible for a child, you cannot claim Child Tax Credit in your own right. However, your parents or someone who is responsible for you can include you in their own claim. If you are 19 or under you can be included in a claim for Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit by your parent or a person who has responsibility for you.
You can complete a questionnaire on the Direct Gov website to find out if you are eligible for Tax Credits.
Child Benefit is a tax-free benefit paid to most people with children. Child benefit is £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 a week for subsequent children. Find out more on the HM Revenue and Customs website.
Other Support for your Baby
If you're on a low income, the Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment to help towards costs of your first child. The grant comes from the Social Fund and you don't have to repay it.
In addition, if you are in receipt of Income Support and Child Tax Credit, or under 18, you will get healthy start vouchers from the Department of Health. You may be entitled to free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, infant formula and vitamins under the Healthy Start scheme.
Free dental care is available to all mothers-to-be and new mothers (of babies up to a year old), regardless of income. Ask your midwife for an exemption certificate.
Statutory Maternity Pay
If you're pregnant and employed, you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, depending on your length of employment and your salary.
Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for a continuous period of up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks you will be paid 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings with no upper limit. For the remaining 33 weeks, you will be paid a standard rate or a rate equal to 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings, whichever rate is lower.
If you're not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay you'll probably qualify for Maternity Allowance. This benefit is awarded to you if you've changed jobs during pregnancy, are self-employed or have been unemployed during pregnancy.
Childcare Vouchers allow employers to help their employees with childcare responsibilities. The following websites can give more information on Childcare Voucher Schemes.
Educational Maintenance Allowance
Educational Maintenance Allowance can provide some support for you to stay on at school or college beyond the age of 16. EMA is means tested which means it is dependent on your parents income. It is made up of weekly payments that are linked to your attendance with extra bonuses paid for finishing terms and making progress in your learning.
Your entitlement to benefits is based on your individual circumstances, so this information should just be used as a guide. For a full assessment of what you will be entitled to before and after your pregnancy, you should consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You can find your local office at http://www.cas.org.uk/.
You can also use the Benefits Calculator on the Turn2Us website to work out if you are eligable for any benefits and can make a claim.
The government is reforming the welfare system, and will be introducing a new benefit called Universal Credit from October 2013.
Universal Credit will take the place of Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. Other benefits and support may be affected.
We will be updating our information to make sure you stay informed of all the changes.