With post-covid global inflationary trends, the cost of living and raising a family are also witnessing an upward trend. Likewise other regions of the world, in the UK, it is also more expensive to have a baby these days.
But fortunately, many public and private financial assistance programs are in place in the country for helping out expecting mothers. Maternity grants are one of the financial assistance programs in the UK that are aimed at reducing the financial costs of pregnancy or having a baby.
In the following paragraphs, we will explore both the public and private maternity grants that UK mothers and couples can avail themselves of.
Public Maternity Grants
Depending on your residence, you can avail of different government maternity grants. If you are living in England and Wales then you can apply for the “Sure Start Maternity Grant”. On the other hand, if you are living in Scotland then you can benefit from the “Best Start Grant”.
1. Sure Start Maternity Grant
Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-time £500 tax-free payment that an expecting mother will receive from the Government of the UK if she resides in England and Wales. For becoming eligible for the maternity grant, you must have no other children under 16. Besides, you or your partner must also get one of the following benefits.
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
- Universal Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest Loan
In case, you are already having under 16 children then you can still get the loan if
- you are expecting multiple births (twins/triplets)
- the child you’re caring for is someone else’s (but not your partner’s) and the child was over 12 months old when the arrangement started
- you’ve been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection and you have a child or children from before you arrived in the UK
If you are eligible then you must apply for the grant 11 weeks before your baby’s birth until your child becomes 6 months old. You can also claim the grant if you are becoming a surrogate mother or adopting a baby. Usually, the payment is disbursed to your bank, building society, or credit union account.
Funded By: Government
Requirements: Expecting & Surrogate Mothers, Adopting Parent (s)
Assistance type: Grant
Payment Amount: £500
Application Page’s URL: https://www.gov.uk/sure-start-maternity-grant/how-to-claim
2. Best Start Grant
Best Start Grant is a Scottish Maternity Grant program that comprises three one-time payments per child. You become eligible for the grant when you are in the 24th week of your pregnancy. Each sub-grant has its specific eligibility requirements which you can find here. Best Start Grant is divided into the following three one-off payments.
Pregnancy and Baby Payment: You become eligible for this payment when you reach the 24th week of your pregnancy. For the first child, you will get a payment of £642.35 payment and payment of £321.20 for each subsequent child.
Early Learning Payment: You will get a payment of £267.65 per child when your child is aged between 2 and 3 ½ years.
School Age Payment: You will get a one-time payment of £267.65 per child when your child starts preparing for primary school.
Funded By: Government (Social Security Scotland)
Requirements: Expecting Mothers, Parents / Partners with Adopted Children
Assistance type: Grant
Payment Amount: Varies (starting from £267 to £621 per Child)
Application Page’s URL: https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods/how-to-apply
Private Maternity Grants
3. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
In the UK, if you are a working woman then you are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). SMP is a weekly payment that the employer is bound to pay to women employees for 39 weeks. For becoming eligible for SMP, a pregnant woman must fulfill certain conditions.
If you have met the qualifying conditions and have reached the 15th week before your baby is due but you are subsequently dismissed, made redundant or your job comes to an end. Then in such case also, your employer will pay you your full SMP.
For the first six weeks of the pregnancy, you will get 90% of your average pay and after that, you will be paid £156.66 weekly or 90% of your average earnings if that is lower, for the remaining pregnancy duration.
4. Maternity Allowance (MA)
If any working woman does not qualify for SMP then they will be paid the Maternity Allowance (MA) by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Besides, self-employed women, women who have recently stopped working, or take part in unpaid work for the business of their spouse or partner then such women are also eligible for Maternity Allowance.
The rate of Maternity Allowance is £156.66 per week or 90% of the average pay (if that is lower), for 39 weeks straight.
Funded By: Employer / DWP
Requirements: Expecting Mothers
Assistance type: Grant / Allowance
Payment Amount: Varies (starting from £156.66 per week)
Application Page’s URL: https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance/how-to-claim
How long Do Maternity Grants Take?
There is no set timeframe for how long it will take to receive a maternity grant in the UK. The grants are typically awarded based on need, so the amount of time it takes to receive one may vary depending on each individual case. However, grants can generally be expected to take several weeks or months to process.