THOUSANDS of new parents on Universal Credit can get a £500 grant to help with childcare costs.
The one-off payment doesn't need to be paid back and it won't reduce your monthly Universal Credit payment or tax credits.
The Sure Start grant is available to parents in England, Northern Ireland and Wales who are expecting their first child.
In Scotland, you may be able to claim up to £600 under the similar Pregnancy and Baby Payment.
You may also be entitled to the extra help even if it's not your first child but you are expecting more than one at the same time, such as twins.
The cash can be used to pay for anything that will ease the immediate financial strain on families when caring for a new baby.
Money saving tips for parents
BECOMING a parent can be expensive so to help you out, we’ve put together six top tips to cut costs, nab freebies and to make sure you’re not fined.
- Free prescriptions and dental care – Prescriptions cost £8.60 a pop in England, while NHS dental costs vary by location. You can get both for free while you're pregnant and for 12 months after your baby's due date. Ask your doctor or midwife for a maternity exemption certificate (MATEX) to claim the free care.
- Free milk, infant formula, vitamins or fruit and veg – Under the Healthy Start programme, you may be entitled to the freebies if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have a child under four and you're on certain benefits, such as Universal Credit.
- £500 free grant – In England, Northern Ireland and Wales you may be entitled to a Sure Start grant of £500 if you're on certain benefits and expecting your first child or expecting more than one baby – such as twins.To claim, you need to fill out the following form on Gov.uk and get your doctor or midwife to sign it.
- Register the birth in time or face a £200 fine – You need to register the birth within 42 days of your baby being born with your local registry office. This costs £11 in England and Wales.
- Update a will or update it – If you don't have a will, in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where one parent dies, children will only inherit cash if the estate is worth more than £250,000 – otherwise all the money will go to the surviving spouse. If you don't want that to happen, you need to get a will stating your wishes.
- Consider getting life insurance – No-one likes to think about death but if something happened to you, could the family survive without your salary? If not, you many want to consider life insurance. Use a comparison service to find not only the cheapest, but the most suitable cover for your needs.
The scheme isn't new – it was launched back in 2013 – but there are fears that new parents could be missing out even though they're entitled to it.
Work and Pensions Lords Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said: "Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the Sure Start Maternity Grant gives families an extra financial boost to help towards the costs of having a baby."
Who is eligible for the Sure Start grant?
Only parents who are expecting their first child are eligible for the grant, so if you're about to have your second or third infant then you won't be able to claim the payout.
There are some exceptions to the rules though.
You may be able to claim the help if you're already a parent but expecting more than one baby at the same time, such as twins or triplets.
Families in this position will only be eligible for the payment if its their first multiple birth though, so you don't qualify if you're expecting your second set of twins.
If you're having your own baby for the first time but are already formally or informally caring for another child over 12 months, known as kinship care, then you are also eligible for the cash.
What help is available to parents for childcare costs?
CHILDCARE can be a costly business. Here is how you can get help.
- 30 hours free childcare – Parents of three and four-year-olds can apply for 30 hours free childcare a week.
To qualify you must work at least 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage and earn less than £100,000 a year.
- Tax credits – For children under 20, some families can get help with childcare costs.
- Tax-free childcare – Available to working families and the self-employed, for every £8 you put in the government will add an extra £2.
Parents who are adopting a child or becoming a surrogate parent and receive benefits are also eligible for the payout if the baby is under one-year-old when you make the claim.
One of the following must also apply to your situation:
- You’ve become responsible for the baby and you’re not the mother
- The baby has been placed with you for adoption
- You’ve got permission to adopt a baby from abroad
- You’ve got a parental order for a surrogate birth
- You’ve been appointed as guardian
- You’ve an adoption or a residence order.
How do I apply for the £500 grant?
New parents must have claimed the grant within 11 weeks in advance of your baby's due date or within six months after your child is born.
You'll need to print out and fill in a claim form, providing personal details such as your name, address and partner's details if applicable.
You will also need to let them know what benefits you're claiming and when you are expecting your baby.
A midwife or doctor will need to sign it too to confirm that you are expecting.
The form must be posted to "Freepost DWP SSMG" – you do not need a postcode or to pay for a stamp.
If you're eligible, the payment will be paid directly into the bank account that your receive your benefits.
Parents are able to get 30 hours of free childcare and tax-free childcare until October even if their income has dropped due to coronavirus.
The schemes usually require working parents to earn at least the national minimum wage for 16 hours a week for the next three months to qualify.
Nurseries were recently told to refund parents who paid for childcare they didn't use during the coronavirus lockdown.
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