09 Jun The Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Parent
There’s a lot to be said for being a stay at home parent. Let’s face it, no one else can bring up your children quite like you can so we’ve decided to take a look and see if there’s any financial benefits to being a stay at home parent to match the other obvious benefits to your children of having you around.
It turns out there’s rather a lot of benefits you can claim pretty much from conception onwards so here goes in chronological order:
Benefits To Claim When Pregnant
Free NHS prescriptions and free NHS dental Care for the duration of your pregnancy and for a year after your child has been born. There’s a bit of a difference between the different UK countries as here in England we have to pay for our prescriptions after the baby is a year old whereas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you are entitled to free prescriptions at all times. You can claim it via a Maternity Exemption Form FW8 available from your doctor or midwife.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
Next up is the Maternity Grant which is a one-off £500 payment to help with the initial costs of having a baby. You can apply for the benefit if you claim one of a variety of benefits such as pension credit, universal credit, income support, jobseekers allowance, employment and support allowance and either of working families or child tax credit. If claiming working families tax credit you must have a disability element to the benefit to be eligible for the maternity payment. You can claim it directly from the Gov.UK website. If you’re lucky enough to be expecting triplets (as the father of twins my tongue is firmly in my cheek) your payment becomes £1000. My guess here is that if one child is £500 and triplets are £1000 it must mean that twins are £750? We shall find out.
Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay
Once you’ve had your baby, employed women are allowed up to one year’s maternity leave and up to 39 weeks pay from their employer if they are eligible. To be eligible you must have average earnings of £120 per week and been employed by your employer for the last 26 weeks. If you pass that hurdle you can then claim Statutory Maternity Pay for the next 39 weeks. That pay will be 90% of your pre-tax average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks then £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings whichever is the LEAST. The next 13 weeks are unpaid if taken. To get maternity leave you must tell your employer your intentions to claim by the 15th week before the baby’s due date. You must then give your employer 28 days notice you want to claim Statutory Maternity Pay and provide proof of pregnancy.
Maternity Allowance, Paternity Leave & Shared Parental Leave
The above follow similar principles to Maternity Pay with regard to weeks worked and average earnings. Where things differ is that fathers can typically claim for 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave only. If they want to take on a bigger role then you need to apply for Shared Parental Leave & Pay where the same rules apply but for both parents. Maternity Allowance is intended for the women who work but don’t fit the criteria mentioned above with regard to how long worked and average pay.
If working, you can claim for 30 hours per week of free childcare from an ‘approved childcare provider’ for 38 weeks which equates to most school term times. This scheme applies to 3 and 4 year olds only and is for England only as the other Home Countries have separate arrangements. You can claim this benefit if you are working or if you are claiming Universal Credit or tax credits.
Everybody’s favourite benefit. Paid directly into your bank account every 4 weeks it is designed to be used for all things child related like clothes, food, nappies etc. You get £21.15 for the first child and £14 per week for all children thereafter.
Care To Learn
If you are a young parent and are still in education you can claim Care To Learn. You must be under 20 years of age when your course started and if so you will receive £175 per week if you live and study in London or it’s £160 if you live outside the capital.
Last but by no means least we have Healthy Start which looks like it replaced the old milk tokens scheme. If you’re pregnant or have children under 4 years of age you can claim vouchers or payments every 4 weeks to spend on cow’s milk, frozen or fresh veg, instant formula milk or pulses, fresh, dried or tinned.
That’s it. There are one or two more schemes you can claim if a stay at home parent and there’s a lot more information around the parental leave and pay but we’ve covered most of the main benefits and schemes you can apply for if pregnant, just had a baby or have children under 4 years old.
We hope this helps.