Becoming a parent for the first time is an exciting but also bewildering experience. There’s a huge amount of new information and knowledge to take on board, and quickly, too – parenthood is a steep learning curve. Something which may get overlooked amid the focus on sleeping habits, nappy changing and feeds is the financial support which is available for new mothers and fathers.
Don’t miss out on the financial benefits which are available. To help you navigate the options we’ve compiled the following information and if you are considering sharing responsibility for childcare in the early days, Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) could be of interest to you. This new allowance applies for fathers-to-be whose baby is due on or after 5 April 2015, or are adopting a child on or after 5 April 2015. For a full run-down of how the new legislation works, simply visit the Money Advice Service.
Tax Free Childcare
The welfare and benefits landscape is changing, but new parents can find the financial support they need for childcare. Tax Free Childcare is set to replace childcare vouchers, which were previously backed by UK employers. The new benefit will come into effect in the Autumn of 2015 and has been designed to help parents with a joint annual income below £150,000. If your earnings fall below the threshold and you’re not receiving help with childcare via tax credits, you could claim £2,000 per child, per year for child care – based on a government contribution up to 20 per cent of the first £10,000 of annual registered childcare costs.
There’s a stack of Government benefits on offer, to help new mums and dads get to grips with providing for their new family member. Child Benefit pays £20.50 per week for your eldest child and £13.55 for any further children. To apply for Child Benefit you can visit the HMRC website and download an application form for completion. Jobcentres may have Child Benefit forms to help you get ahead with the paperwork, if you can’t get online. If you are responsible for a child under 16 (20 if they stay in education/training) you can claim the benefit, until your income reaches £50,000 when it is reduced. There are no benefits for parents earning £60,000 or more.
Healthy Start vouchers
Money off milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables is offered to help babies get the nutrients they need for healthy development. Application forms need to be checked and signed by your midwife or health visitor. Money (currently £500) for baby equipment can be available in the form of a Maternity Grant and is something to think about if you’ve had a baby, or adopted, in the last three months.
Child Tax Credit / Universal Credit
Universal Credit has already replaced Child Tax Credit in some areas of the UK and offers a monthly amount of money. It will be calculated to include your family’s benefits for “Child element” and “Childcare element”. The Daily Mail has reported that The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, could be planning a clampdown on the Universal Credit for EU nationals.
He said about Universal Credit: “National governments in the EU are perfectly able to control who accesses those sorts of benefits – and EU jobseekers will not be able to claim. This is a payment for people who are both in work and out of work, and it’s there to support them and push them along a path that will free them from dependency on the state.”
Child Tax Credit, where it remains, ranges from £10 and £105 per week and is paid to support parents and people with low earnings. Application forms are available at www.gov.uk.