There may be financial help available to help you with the cost of having a baby or bringing up a child.

From April 2018, all Scottish Local Authorities and Health Boards have a joint duty to take steps to reduce child poverty in their areas.

Latest figures show that 24% of children in Scotland live in poverty and over 67% of those children live in a household where at least one parent works.  In West Dunbartonshire, 26.5% of the children are living in poverty.

The following is a list of financial support which may be available to you during pregnancy, once you have had a baby or from when you become responsible for a child, e.g. through adoption. 

Any figures shown are 2021/22 rates.

Benefits for expectant mothers
Benefit What is it? Who qualifies?

Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks. 
  • £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

You qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if:

  • you’re an employee not a ‘worker’, and
  • you give your employer the correct notice.

It does not matter how long you’ve been with your employer, how many hours you work or how much you get paid.

Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave

The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £151.97, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

You must:

  • be employed by your employer up to the date of birth,
  • earn at least £120 a week (before tax),
  • give the correct notice, and
  • have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the ‘qualifying week’.

The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the baby is due. This is different if you adopt.

Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave

Statutory Adoption Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. The weekly amount is:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks,
  • £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

To get Statutory Adoption Pay you must:

  • have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks by the week you were matched with a child,
  • earn on average at least £120 a week (before tax),
  • give the correct notice, and
  • give proof of the adoption or surrogacy.

Maternity Allowance

You could get either:

  • £151.20 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for 39 weeks,
  • £27 a week for 39 weeks, or
  • £27 a week for 14 weeks.

Maternity Allowance is usually paid to you if you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. You can use the maternity entitlement calculator to check your eligibility.

Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment

A payment of £606 for the first child and £303 for any other child.

You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 24 weeks pregnant up until 6 months after the birth, or if you become responsible for a child under 1, and are on certain benefits or under 18.

Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment

A payment of £252.50.

You can apply when your child is aged between 2 years old and 3 years 6 months old, and are on certain benefits.

Best Start Grant School Age Payment

A payment of £252.50.

You can apply in the year your child is starting school, and are on certain benefits.

Best Start Foods

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card that you can use to buy healthy foods for children under 3. You can use the card in shops and online.

You can apply for Best Start Foods when you're pregnant, or any time up to your child turning 3 years old, and are on certain benefits or under 18.

Baby Box

All newborn babies in Scotland will be given a box of essential items, containing things like:

  • clothes, from newborn up to 6 months,
  • a digital ear thermometer,
  • a bath towel,
  • a changing mat, and
  • books.

The box also has a mattress, mattress protector and a fitted sheet.

The baby box is free and your midwife will help you register for it during your 20 to 24 week antenatal appointment your midwife will:

  • explain the baby box to you and ask if you would like one,
  • fill in a baby box registration card with you, and
  • arrange delivery.

You don't need to do anything else. You'll get the baby box between weeks 32 to 36 of pregnancy.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a payment if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is:

Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child.

It’s paid every 4 weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.

Tax Credits

Tax Credits consist of Child and Working Tax Credit elements.  Tax Credits have been replaced by Universal Credit for most people.

You can only make a new claim for tax credits if you get the severe disability premium or got it in the past month and are still eligible for it.

Scottish Child Payment

Scottish Child Payment helps towards the costs of supporting your family if you have a child aged under 6.

You may be able to get Scottish Child Payment if all of the following apply:

  • you live in Scotland
  • you or your partner are getting certain benefits or payments
  • you or your partner are the main person looking after a child who's under 6 years old

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs if you are on a low income or out of work. It’s paid monthly, or twice a month for some people in Scotland.

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work'
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)'
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)'
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you' and
  • you live in the UK.

Jobseekers Allowance

You can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work.  Jobseekers Allowance has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people.

You can only apply for contribution-based and income-based JSA if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it, or
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it, 

You may be able to apply for ‘new style’ JSA.

Employment Support Allowance

You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.

You can only apply for Employment Support Allowance if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it, or
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it.

You may be able to apply for ‘new style’ ESA.

Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following is true:

  • you’re getting the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it,
  • you got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it,
  • you have reached State Pension age,
  • you live in temporary accommodation, or
  • you live in sheltered or supported housing with special facilities such as alarms or wardens.

If not, you’ll need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Reduction can help you pay your council tax if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits.

You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working. If you live in West Dunbartonshire you can claim online.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:

  • is under 16, and
  • has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability

The DLA rate(s) depend on the level of help the child needs.

They will need to meet all the eligibility requirements. Your child will need to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when they turn 16.

The new Social Security Scotland Child Disability Payment is open for first time applications in pilot areas from 26 July 2021. The pilot will be followed by a full national roll-out in the autumn.

Families currently getting Disability Living Allowance for Children do not have to take any action. Starting later this year, their benefit will be transferred automatically to the new Scottish system. Their payments will not change and will be paid at the same rates and at the same time as their Disability Living Allowance was.

Carers Allowance

 

You could get Carers Allowance if you care for someone and are under the earnings threshold.

If you are a young carer 16-18 and live in Scotland, you may be eligible for a Young Carer Grant

You must care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits.  If you do not qualify for this and you care for someone for at least 20 hours a week, you may be entitled to Carers Credit, which is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record.

 

Free School meals and Clothing Grants

You may be entitled to free school meals and/or a clothing grant to assist with cost of school uniforms if you have children and live in West Dunbartonshire.

Free nursery/school meals and the footwear and clothing Grant are available for parents on low income, and on certain benefits.f you live in West Dunbartonshire you can claim online.

Educational Maintenance Allowance

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a Scottish Government initiative aimed at helping young people stay on in education. 

You may be eligible for an EMA if you are aged 16-19 and attend a West Dunbartonshire school or in receipt of an Activity Agreement, and meet the income threshold.  If you live in West Dunbartonshire you can claim online.

NHS dental care

Free NHS dental care while you’re pregnant and for a year after the baby is born.  You may also qualify for help if on a low income.

Fill out the Maternity Exemption form (FW8), available from your doctor or midwife.  You can pick up the HC1 form for the Low Income Scheme, available from community pharmacies, GP practices, Citizens Advice Bureau and Jobcentre Plus offices.

Some benefits for children can continue beyond the age of 16 if they are in approved education or training.  Children with disabilities who have left school or are leaving school and some children who are still in full-time, non-advanced education may be eligible for benefits* or other financial support, depending on their personal circumstances.   

 *It is always advisable that any person, who may fall into any of the above, should seek further advice before making any claim to benefit.

There are a number of independent benefits calculators to find out , what benefits you could get, how to claim and how your benefits will be affected if you start work, or contact us for advice and support by filling out our online contact form.