The financial worries for pregnancy and having a child can be vast, with the first few years of a babies life being an expensive time for most new parents. That's not to mean you have to foot every bill by yourself though. The government offers plenty of support and benefits that you can access, so make sure you take full advantage.
In terms of supportive benefits, you can look at Home Start. Home Start provides some great informal, friendly family support. Run by volunteers, they offer support, practical help and friendship to younger families who may be struggling with the first stages of parenthood.
Home Start can come round to your home and sit with you for a few hours to discuss whatever you like, and help you with an questions you may have. They also run local groups which you can attend to talk to other parents too.
What about financial benefits?
Health in Pregnancy Grant
Being pregnant may mean that you're able to get a one-off, tax free payment known as the Health in Pregnancy Grant. This Grant is open to anyone over 25 weeks pregnant, who has taken health advice from a doctor or midwife, and have a right to reside in the UK. The grant is £190 per pregnancy, regardless of how many babies you're carrying. The grant is easy enough to claim, just grab a claim form from your doctor or midwife.
Child Trust Fund
The Child Trust Fund can help you set up a savings and investment fund for your child, to help plan for their future. It's open to anyone who has a child born after 1st September 2002, and you will be sent a cheque for £250 to kick start the fund. The fund is now under ownership of the child and cannot be accessed until they are 18. You can choose from three different accounts: savings accounts, accounts that invest in shares, and stakeholder accounts.
Tax Credits for Childcare
Joanne Mallon recently wrote a more in depth post about Tax Credits, and it's worth looking into as you may be able to claim up to £240 a week on tax credits. This even applies to parents who just need help during the holidays with childcare.
Childcare vouchers are available from most employers and they allow you to pay for any Ofsted registered childcare, up until the age of 15. The vouchers can stack up to £55 per week, or £243 per month, and are tax and national insurance free, which can make a massive difference in the long term. Speak to your employer to see what they offer. It's also worth bearing in mind that both parents can claim, regardless of the number of children.
There are plans in place to scrap the childcare vouchers, although you can sign a petition if you wish to oppose this move.
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