Get help with costs if you have a child or you’re pregnant

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You might be able to get extra money to help pay for essential costs like food, childcare and school costs.

Check what benefits you can get

You might be able to claim extra benefits if you have a child. For example:

  • Child Benefit

  • Universal Credit

  • Guardian’s Allowance, if you’re responsible for a child whose parents have died

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA), if your child is under 16 years old and is ill, disabled or has a mental health condition

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP), if your child is aged 16 or over and is ill, disabled or has a mental health condition

  • Carer’s Allowance, if your child gets DLA or PIP

You can use the Turn2us benefits calculator for a quick idea of what benefits and other financial help you might be able to get.

Use the Turn2us benefits calculator.

If you’re on maternity leave

If you can’t get maternity pay, you might be able to claim Maternity Allowance.

Check if you can get maternity pay or Maternity Allowance.

If you already get benefits

You might be able to get extra money or help because you have a child. 

If you get Universal Credit

You should get the child element of Universal Credit if you're responsible for a child under 16 who normally lives with you. You'll get an extra amount for a second child. 

You can also get this until 31 August following your child’s 19th birthday if they're in full-time non-advanced education - for example, at school or college.

You’ll usually only get extra money for a third child if they were born before 6th April 2017.

Check how much Universal Credit you can get.

You can tell the DWP about your child by reporting a change of circumstances.

Check how to report a change of circumstances to the DWP.

If you get Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit gives you access to other help - like free school meals. If you only get Working Tax Credit, you can add Child Tax Credit to your claim. 

If you already get Child Tax Credit, you might be able to add another child onto the existing claim.

Check if you can get Child Tax Credits.

If you get Pension Credit

If you’re responsible for a child you can get an extra amount added to your Pension Credit, as long as you’re not already getting child tax credits.

Check how much Pension Credit you can get on GOV.UK.

If you get Disability Living Allowance

If you already get DLA for your child, you might be able to get extra money and help.

Check what extra help you can get on DLA.

If you get Personal Independence Payment

If you or your child already get PIP, you might be able to get extra money and help.

Check what extra help you can get on PIP.

Check if you can get a grant

You might be able to get a one-off payment of £500 to help with the costs if either:

  • you’re having your first baby 

  • you’re expecting a multiple birth - for example twins 

You must be getting certain benefits and you have to claim before your baby is 6 months old. Find out how to apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant on GOV.UK.

There might be other grants available in your area. Check if you can get any other grants on the Turn2us website.

Get help with childcare costs

There are different schemes to help you pay for childcare. These will only pay for ‘approved childcare’ - check what childcare is approved on GOV.UK.

You might be able to get more help, depending on:

  • if you get any benefits

  • the age of your child

  • your income

  • if your child is disabled

You might be able to use more than one scheme depending on your circumstances. 

Check what help you can get on the UK government’s Childcare Choices website.

If you work and claim Universal Credit

If you work and claim Universal Credit, you might be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs. You can get up to £950.92 a month for 1 child under 17 years old or £1,630.15 for 2 or more children.

Check if you can claim back childcare costs through Universal Credit on GOV.UK.

If you earn at least £167 a week

You might be able to apply to the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. This can help you with childcare costs, for example childminders, nurseries and holiday clubs. You can get up to:

  • £2,000 a year for each child aged under 12

  • £4,000 a year for each disabled child aged under 17

You can’t get Tax-Free Childcare if you get Universal Credit, childcare vouchers or Child or Working Tax Credit.

Check if you can get Tax-Free Childcare on GOV.UK.

If your child is aged between 9 and 24 months

From September 2024, you might also be able to get 15 hours of free childcare a week, or 570 hours of free childcare a year. In September 2025, this will go up to 30 hours a week, or 1,140 hours a year.

You might still have to pay for meals or additional activities. You should check with your childcare provider.

Find out more about the upcoming changes to childcare support on the UK government’s Childcare Choices website.

If your child is 2 years old

If you get benefits based on your income, you might be able to get up to 15 hours of free childcare a week, with a maximum of 570 hours in a year. 

You might still have to pay for meals or additional activities. You should check with your childcare provider. 

Check if you can get ‘15 hours free childcare for 2 year olds’ on GOV.UK.

If you earn over £167 a week

From April 2024, you can get 15 hours of free childcare a week with a maximum of 570 hours in a year. 

In September 2025, this will go up to 30 hours a week, or 1,140 hours a year.

Find out more about the upcoming changes to childcare support on the UK government’s Childcare Choices website.

If your child is 3 or 4 years old

If your child is 3 or 4 years old, you can get up to 15 hours of free childcare a week, with a maximum of 570 hours a year. You might still have to pay for meals or additional activities. You should check with your childcare provider.

Check if you can get ‘15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds’ on GOV.UK.

If you work and earn more than £167 a week, you might also be able to get an extra 570 free hours of childcare a year, as well as the 570 hours available to everyone. This could mean up to 30 free hours of childcare a week.

Check if you’re eligible for ‘30 hours free childcare’ on GOV.UK.

Get help paying for food

If you're struggling to pay for food, you might be able to get a referral to a food bank.

Find out how to get help from a food bank.

You might also be able to get support from a local baby bank - these offer free essentials like nappies, toys, shoes and clothes. 

Some food banks also provide nappies, baby wipes and baby food. 

Search online to find your nearest baby bank or food bank - or speak to your midwife or health visitor.

Get a Healthy Start card

You might be able to get a Healthy Start card to help you buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables.

To get the Healthy Start card you must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old. You must also be getting either:

  • Universal Credit - but only if your household earns £408 a month or less

  • Income Support

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance - but only if you're pregnant

  • Pension Credit

  • Child Tax Credit - but only if your household earns £16,190 a year or less

If you get Child Tax Credit, you can’t get the card if you also get Working Tax Credit - unless you get the ‘run-on’ payment. Working Tax Credit run-on is the payment you get for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

With the Healthy Start card you’ll get:

  • £4.25 each week from week 10 of your pregnancy

  • £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year old

  • £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4 years old

  • free vitamins

You can apply for the Healthy Start scheme on the NHS website.

Get help with school costs

If you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the costs of sending your children to school.

For example, you could get:

  • free school meals

  • free transport to school

  • a grant to help buy school clothes or uniforms

  • help with school trips

Find out more about getting help with school costs.

Get more help with the cost of living

You can also get help that doesn’t depend on you having children. Check what other help you can get with the cost of living.

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