Home > Life > Money > Get Right On The Money – A Guide To Pre-School Funding For Parents

When you discover you’re pregnant it’s not unusual to ponder on the financial implications of bringing a new life into the world. With the cost of raising a child said to be a massive £71,611 according to the Child Poverty Action Group, it’s a justifiable concern. Furthermore, with so many families devastated financially as a result of the pandemic, now more than ever we all need to take stock of our financial health and protect our families for any other unforeseen circumstances.

Whether you have a baby on the way, or currently raising a child in their early pre-school age, we’ve compiled a list of all the money that is available to you if you are a UK resident. Read on, so you don’t miss out.

Maternity Leave

Mums to be who reside in the UK can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, which is made up of the first 26 known as ordinary maternity leave, and the remaining 26 referred to as additional maternity leave. If you’re a private sector employee, give your employer notice when you intend to start your maternity leave and check your contract for details on your maternity pay, or get in touch with your HR department for full clarification. Some companies even offer enhanced maternity pay if they run a maternity scheme, so do your due diligence by asking the right questions.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Statutory Maternity (SMP) is the standard type of maternity pay in the UK, and it’s the legal minimum that your employer is contractually obligated to pay you. SMP is paid up to 39 weeks and if entitled to it you will receive 90% of your pre-tax earnings for 6 weeks, followed by £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (or whatever is lower) for the remaining 33 weeks. Your tax and national insurance contributions will be deducted from these payments.

Maternity Allowance

Expectant mothers who aren’t entitled to SMP for a myriad of reasons (such as self-employment or unemployment), may be able to receive maternity allowance. This allowance can commence 11 weeks prior to the arrival of baby, and last up to 39 weeks. Maternity Allowance payments vary but are typically set at £151.97 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less), for 39 weeks, and this applies to those who recently stopped working. If you’re self-employed the payment threshold is more varied. You will receive £27 to £151.97 per week depending how many national insurance contributions you’ve made prior to the birth of your baby.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

A Sure Start Maternity grant provides a one-off payment of £500 as a cost towards having a child. You may qualify for the grant if you and your partner are in receipt of certain benefits, expecting your first child, having a multi-birth (twins, triplets etc) or have children already. If you reside in Scotland, you won’t be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant but may be able to apply for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment instead. Visit the GOV.UK site to find out more about your eligibility.

Paternity Pay and Leave

Your partner should be entitled to 1-2 weeks of paid paternity leave when they take time off after you have your baby (this also applies if you adopt a child or are part of a surrogate arrangement). Visit gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave to find out more about eligibility.

Child Benefit

Child benefit is a weekly allowance you receive if you are responsible for a child under 16 (or up to 20 if child is in full time education/training). Payment is made every 4 weeks, with the current rate set at £21.15 per week, and £14 per additional child. If you or your partner earn over £50,000 you will most likely have to pay an additional tax charge known as the high-income child benefit charge, so it’s important to report any change in circumstances to the child benefit office.

Extra Help

There are a number of benefits you can claim if you are currently out of work or on a low income and not entitled to any maternity benefits. These include Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit and Income Support. Benefits are means tested so head to GOV.uk/benefits-calculator to work out how much help you can receive.

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