Q. I am pregnant with my first child, I am currently working full-time but I am struggling to afford essentials for my child, are there any grants available to me?
A. When you have a child there are a range of benefits which you may become entitled to such as child benefit and tax credits, there is also the possibility of a maternity grant.
A maternity grant (also known as a Sure Start maternity grant) is a fixed amount of £500 to help people on a low income buy clothes and equipment for a new born baby.
It does not have to be repaid.
It does not matter what you use the money for.
You can only get a maternity grant if the new baby is the only child under 16 in the household. Different rules apply if you give birth to twins or more babies.
You can get a maternity grant if you or your partner receive a qualifying benefit. Qualifying benefits include Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance when you claim.
If you’re getting Child Tax Credit, you may also be able to get a maternity grant if your award of Child Tax Credit is high enough.
If you are getting Working Tax Credit with an extra amount because of disability, you will be entitled to a maternity grant.
Your capital (for example, savings) does not affect a maternity grant.
Many clients think that because they work full-time they will not qualify for a maternity grant or even Tax Credits however this is not always the case.
Tax Credits are initially worked out based on your previous year’s income but can be adjusted as a result of expected income changes throughout the year, which will be the case if you are going to be on maternity leave and in receipt of statutory maternity pay or allowance. We would always advise that a benefit check should be completed to establish entitlement to Tax Credits and any additional benefits.
You can claim a maternity grant if you or your partner is at least 29 weeks’ pregnant, or has given birth, adopted a baby or had a child by a surrogate mother within the last three months and have claimed a qualifying benefit.
In some circumstances, you can claim if you are the grandparent of the baby and you are responsible for the baby.
To claim a maternity grant, you also have to show that you have received advice from a health care professional.
The baby must not be more than 12 months old at the date of the claim.
Forms to apply for the grant are available from your local Jobs and Benefits Office.
If you are still awaiting a decision on your entitlement to a qualifying benefit and the three month time limit is approaching you should still lodge a claim for a grant as you do not want to miss this. As long as you initially applied for the qualifying benefit within 10days of applying for the maternity grant the time limit is extended and you can reapply for the grant within three months of receiving the qualifying benefit.
If you are refused a maternity grant you will have one month to request a mandatory reconsideration of the decision from the date on the decision letter, we can help with this and also the appeal if applicable.
Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland