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Raising a family is expensive so it makes sense to know what you’re entitled to – from maternity pay to Tax-Free Childcare

Compared to the excitement of finding out you’re pregnant, working out your entitlements and benefits as a parent may seem a little… dull. But stick with us: babies can be surprisingly expensive and it pays to know what support is available to you. Depending on your circumstances, there are lots of ways to ease the financial and emotional load from pregnancy to preschool and beyond. Here’s a round-up of some links you might find helpful.

Maternity and paternity: pay and leave

Most people would agree that dads should play an active role in childcare – and women should be able to continue their career – so it’s great that there’s support for both partners when you get pregnant. For more details, check out our dedicated articles on maternity pay and allowance and Shared Parental Leave.

Flexible working

Did you know that if you have a child under 18 you have a legal right to request flexible working from your employer? Whether that means leaving early twice a week, or working from home there are plenty of flexible working options.

Free healthcare during pregnancy

You’ll be entitled to free NHS dental treatments and prescriptions for mum while pregnant and for 12 months after the expected date of your baby’s birth. If your birth is delayed, you can apply for an extension. Not having to pay can come in handy if you’re trying to keep costs down during maternity leave. Ask your midwife, GP or health visitor for an application form.

Free healthcare for children

With all those coughs, colds and other illnesses that children can pick up, it’s good to know you won’t have to pay for prescriptions until your little one is 16 years old (or 18 if in full-time education). On top of that, your child can also get free NHS eye tests and dental treatment.

Childcare vouchers 

Childcare vouchers are being replaced with Tax-Free Childcare. Depending on when you read this, you may still be able to receive them if your employer continues to support the scheme. Use the government’s better-off calculator to see which scheme is best for you.

Child Benefit 

This is a payment you could receive if your child is under 16 or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training. Be aware that if you earn over a certain amount, you may have to pay a tax charge. See if you are eligible to claim Child Benefit.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a combination of previous credit schemes designed for those on low incomes or out of work. It replaces Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, alongside a range of other benefits with payments based upon your circumstances. 

Tax-Free childcare

Tax-Free childcare is available to everyone. It means the government will pop £2 in the pot for every £8 you spend on childcare. You can apply for Tax-Free childcare online.

Free nursery education or childcare

When your child reaches pre-school age, they’re entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education or childcare a week for 38 weeks of the year. You could even be entitled to up to 30 hours a week depending on your circumstances. Find out more here, then use this search tool to find services in your area.

Keep up to date

State benefits are subject to change at any time, so it’s always worth checking the latest information – just follow the links we’ve provided or jump straight to the full list on gov.uk. And don’t forget, you’ll find more ways to save on our offers page.

Figures are correct as of March 2018.

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