*This post was updated in January 2019 to reflect changes and the introduction of the Scottish Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
There’s no getting round it – babies are expensive! But did you know that lots of you Mummies, Daddies and guardians of new babies as well as those with little bundles on the way could be entitled to a £500 grant from the government? You could get £600 if you live in Scotland! And best of all, you don’t need to pay it back!
These payments are primarily designed to help if you are expecting your first child and are in receipt of benefits, but there are circumstances where you may be eligible to claim even if you already have children under 16 living with you. Plus, if you live in Scotland, you can claim £300 for subsequent children who are not your first born. Sound good? Here’s what you need to know…
What does the Sure Start Maternity Grant and Pregnancy & Baby Payment Cover?
If your application for one of these grants is accepted, it’s up to you how you spend the money. You could use the money to purchase your pram or travel system, to stock up on baby clothes or other essentials such as nappies – it’s totally up to you. And from what the parents in our Facebook community tell us, this grant can really help – it’s worth your while to fill out the forms.
The grants are designed to be a helping hand at what can be an expensive time. If you’d like to use your payment to bag some bargains, don’t forget to check out our list of 2019 Baby and Toddler events, which is updated regularly with current events and offers.
Sure Start Maternity Grant – How much could I get?
So, how does it work? Well if you’re expecting your first child and live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you could be eligible to receive a one-off payment of £500.
If you or your partner already have children under the age of 16 who live with you, you can also apply for the grant if you are having twins and would receive £500 or triplets to receive £1,000 – unless you’ve already had a multiple birth.
Am I eligible for the Sure Start Maternity Grant?
To claim for the one off tax-free payment of £500 you should be in receipt of at least one benefit such as tax credit, income support etc (see list below). This should also be your first child. Your actual income isn’t important and receiving this payment won’t impact the benefits you receive.
You should be in receipt of one of these benefits to claim:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element
- Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
- Universal Credit
You may also be able to get the grant if your baby is not your first born but you’re having twins or triplets. Or if other children living with you are aged 16 or over. If you’re having a multiple birth you can claim £500 for twins or £1,000 triplets if you already have one or more child under 16, unless you’ve already had a multiple birth.
Adoptive parents and surrogate parents may also qualify for the grant providing they claim before a child’s first birthday. Find more on this if you live in England in Wales here or Northern Ireland here.
If you meet other eligibility criteria and you care for a baby who is not yours or your partner’s you may be able to claim even if the child was over 12 months when the arrangement began.
How do I claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant?
If you think you are eligible to claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant you should download a form for Northern Ireland, or England and Wales which needs to be signed by a health professional. The form can either posted back or handed in through your local Job Centre.
You will need:
- your details and those of your partner if you have one (name, address, date of birth)
- Information about your other children
- You will also need to provide bank details for payment of the grant or it can be paid in the same way you receive your other benefits if you don’t have an account
There is a deadline for the Sure Start Maternity Grant and if you are the birth parents you should apply within 11 weeks of baby’s due date or within six months after birth. You should receive a letter back to tell you if your claim is successful.
To make further enquiries or to get help with your application you can contact the Sure Start Maternity Grant helpline on 0800 169 0140 or Job Centre Plus.
Scotland’s Best Start Grant – Pregnancy & Baby Payment
In December 2018 Scotland replaced the UK government Sure Start Maternity Grant with their own Best Start Grant Pregnancy & Baby Payment. Like the Sure Start grant, to qualify parents should be in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits whether you work or not.
Differences between the Sure Start Grant and Scottish Best Start
There are some key differences between the new Scottish grant and the Sure Start Grant available elsewhere in the UK. Scottish Mummies and Daddies will be pleased to find out that it gives an extra £100 to parents on the birth of their first child (£600). Plus, a £300 grant is also available for subsequent children (in the UK payment is capped to your first child only).
Importantly, this means if you have a child who is not your first child but is not yet six months (and born before the changes were made) – you could be eligible to receive a payment of £300 if you act soon.
There is also more financial help available for parents of multiples in Scotland, with an additional payment to help with the cost of caring for more than one baby.
- If you’re having twins you will receive £600 if one is your first child, plus £300 for your second child and a £300 payment to ‘help with the cost of having more than one baby’ = £1,200 total
- If having twins but you already have children, you would receive £300 for each child plus the £300 payment to help with having more than one baby = £900
Also worth noting – if you’re adopting or you’re a kinship carer and meet the other eligibility criteria you have up to 1st birthday to apply.
Applying for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment in Scotland
You can download a paper form if you prefer here.
For help completing the forms you can call 0800 182 2222 (8am-6pm Mon-Fri) or visit your local Citizens Advice Scotland for free face-to-face help.