Your rights: Entitlements for new mothers

Congratulations! Your new baby has arrived! After the initial excitement and exhaustion, you’re probably settling into a routine with your new baby, and have some time to find out what benefits you may be entitled to, now you are a mother. Read on for further information…

Sure Start Maternity Grant
If you are on a low income and receiving certain benefits such as Income Support, Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you may be entitled to a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

This is a one-off payment of £500 that is made to help you meet the cost of having a new baby. You do not have to pay it back. If you already have children under 16, you may not get a grant unless you are expecting a multiple birth (such as twins or triplets) and you claim from August 13 2012, and the babies are expected or born on or after October 29 2012.

If you wish to make a claim, you must do so within 11 weeks of expecting the baby or within 3 months of the birth. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus and ask for claim form SF100 (Sure Start) or you can download it.

Child Benefit
You can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child under 16, or up until their 20th birthday if in full-time education to A-level or equivalent, or attending an approved unpaid course of training.

Until 2014, the allowance for your eldest child is £20.30 and £13.40 each for subsequent children.

You should claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born. Your claim can only be backdated for 3 months so you should claim it as soon as possible. To make a claim, fill in a claim form and send it to the Child Benefit Office with your child’s original birth certificate.

Remember to report any changes to your family life or to your child’s life to the Child Benefit Office.

The High Income Child Benefit Charge
From January 7 2013, if you or your partner earns more than £50,000 per year, you will start to pay a new income tax charge.

It is the income of each person that counts, not your combined income. If you both earn £45,000 each you will not be affected by the changes. If one of you earns £51,000 and the other does not earn anything, you will have to pay extra tax. If one of you earns £51,000 and the other earns £55,000, the person with the higher income will have to pay the extra tax.

You will continue to receive a smaller amount of Child Benefit, depending on your income, but once your income is over £60,000 a year you will pay so much in tax, it will effectively cancel out the amount of Child Benefit you are getting.

Child Tax Credits
If you are responsible for a child under 16 or up until their 20th birthday if in full-time education to A-level or equivalent or attending an approved unpaid training course, you may be entitled to Child Tax Credit. You can claim whether or not you work. It is paid in addition to Child Benefit.

The amount of Child Tax Credit you get will depend on your household income and your circumstances. As a rough guide only, you may get Child Tax Credit if you have one child and a household income up to about £26,000 or two children and a household income of up to about £32,200.

Child Tax Credit is made up of different elements, including a family element which is paid to any family responsible for one or more children, and a child element for each child or young person in the family. You are entitled to an extra amount if a child is disabled.

If you would like to claim Child Tax Credit and it is the first time you have claimed, contact the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900 and ask for a claim form. If you are already claiming Working Tax Credit, you do not have to complete a claim form, just call the helpline and update your claim.