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Money can be a big worry if you're pregnant or have a baby. Here are the low income grants and benefits you might be able to get...

This article covers the following benefits for parents on a low income:
Sure Start Maternity Grant
Healthy Start Vouchers
Further information

Sure Start Maternity Grant

You could qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500, no matter what savings you may have (Gov.uk, no date). This is a one-off payment to help towards the cost of essential maternity and baby items. You don’t have to repay it and it won’t affect any other benefits but you may not be eligible if you have other children.

If you live in Scotland, you can apply for a Pregnancy and Baby Payment instead (Gov.uk, no date).

The Sure Start Maternity Grant is available for your first baby or first multiple birth, or if your other children are 16 years old or over.

Who qualifies for a Sure Start Maternity Grant?

Babies will only receive the grant if they are the only child under 16 years old in the house. You can get a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you or your partner receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award
  • Universal Credit.

And if one of the following applies to you on the date you claim:

  • You or your partner are pregnant and expecting a baby within 11 weeks or have given birth within the last six months.
  • A dependent child you receive benefit for, who has no other children, is expecting a baby within 11 weeks or has given birth within the last six months (including children aged 16 to 19 years old and in approved education or training).
  • You are not the mother and have become the responsible single parent of a baby no more than one year old.
  • You or your partner have been granted an adoption or a residence order for a baby no more than one year old.
  • You and your partner have been granted a parental order for a surrogate birth and the baby is no more than one year old.
  • You or your partner have been appointed the guardian of a baby no more than one year old.
  • You or your partner have had a baby placed with you for adoption by an agency and the baby is no more one year old.
  • You or your partner have adopted a baby abroad and the baby is no more than one year old. (Gov.uk, no date)

How to apply for a maternity grant

You can claim from 11 weeks before the birth until the baby is six months old. To apply, you should complete claim pack SF100 (Sure Start).

Contact your local Jobcentre Plus to fill in a maternity grant form or download a claim pack from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website. 

Healthy Start Vouchers

You might also be eligible for a ‘Healthy Start card’ that you can use to buy milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables (NHS, no date). You can also get free vitamins. (In this instance ‘plain’ means any fruit or vegetables which do not have added ingredients such as: fat (oil), salt, sugar or flavourings – including oven chips and battered onion rings. You also can’t spend them on dried, canned, juiced or pre-cooked fruit and vegetables or on smoothies.)

Do I qualify for Healthy Start?

You qualify for Healthy Start if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and you receive:

  • Universal Credit and your family receives £408 or less per month from employment

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only*) and have an annual family income of below £16,190 or less (NHS, no date).

OR:

  • you're pregnant and under 18 years of age (NHS, no date).

*Working Tax Credit run-on is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the four weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week.  

How much are the vouchers worth?

The vouchers are worth £4.25 per week if you're pregnant, £8.50 per week for each baby under one or £4.25 per child over one and under four (NHS, no date).

How do I claim the vouchers?

Visit the Healthy Start website for details on the various ways that you can claim for vouchers.

This page was last reviewed in May 2022.

Further information

Gov.uk has information on its Sure Start Maternity Grants.

Information on Healthy Start and the voucher scheme is given by the NHS. You can also call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823.

See also the Money Advice Service and read their Parent’s guide to money.

You can call the Tax Credit helpline on 0345 300 3900 or the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723.

See also the benefits calculator, posted by Turn2us, a national charity which helps people to access the benefits which are available to them.

Maternity Action has information on maternity rights and you can call their helpline on helpline 0845 600 8533. 

You can call the Working Families' helpline on 0300 012 0312 or email: advice@workingfamilies.org.uk.

Gov.uk. (no date) Sure Start Maternity Grant. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/sure-start-maternity-grant [Accessed 19th May 2022]

NHS. (no date) Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start). Available at: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/how-to-apply/ [Accessed 19th May 2022]

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