Bringing up kids is amazing, but there’s lots of daily tasks that can be tough to manage, money being one of them! Money (or lack of it) can be really stressful to deal with, but there is help out there if you need it. There’s a wide range of benefits and services available. To make life that wee bit easier for you, we’ve pulled together a list of what you could be entitled to as a parent.
Did you know there is also a free Financial Health Check service which can tell you what benefits, exemptions and support is available to you, and help you claim what you’re entitled to? This service is delivered by the Citizens Advice Bureau network in Scotland, you can call 0800 085 7145 or get in touch with your local CAB if you’d prefer to see someone face to face. You can find their details here.
Support and benefits for expectant parents and parents with a newborn baby
Maternity and paternity leave
If you’ve just found out you’re going to have a baby and you and/or your partner are currently working, you will be entitled to maternity and paternity leave. To see what options are open to you, visit the websites below:
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment is a cash payment for parents, or carers, who get certain benefits or are under 18, to help you give your baby the best start. Those who are 18 or 19, and in full-time education are also eligible for a payment if they are dependent on someone else who claims benefits on their behalf. You may be able to get £600 for your first child and £300 for all other children.
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment can help to cover some of the costs of having children. These costs could be things like needing a pram, buying clothes or heating your home but, because it's a cash payment, you can choose how you need to spend the money. To find out more about the payment visit mygov.scot or phone Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222.
Scotland’s Baby Box
We want to welcome every baby born in Scotland by giving them their own Baby Box. The Baby Box will help families prepare for the arrival of their baby and provide a safe and comfortable place for them to sleep. The box itself acts like a Moses basket as it comes complete with a mattress and bedding that fits perfectly.
New babies need a surprising amount of stuff! Scotland’s Baby Box is packed full of clothes, bedding and lots of other useful things to help give your baby the best possible start in life.
Find out more about the Baby Box and how you can get yours.
Healthy start food vouchers
Healthy Start is a scheme that helps you buy basic foods like milk, fruit and infant formula. If you qualify you'll get a voucher worth £3.10 each week, or two vouchers if you have a child under 1.
To qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, you must either be at least 10 weeks pregnant, or have at least one child under 4 years old.
You must also be getting at least one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
If you're under 18 and pregnant, you'll qualify even if you don't get any of the above benefits. Visit the Healthy Start website for more information on how to apply and where you can use the vouchers.
General support and benefits for parents
School clothing grant
You may be entitled to apply for a school clothing grant, which provides financial help towards the cost of buying a school uniform. School clothing grants are normally a cash grant paid directly into your bank account from your local council. All Scottish councils pay at least £100 to eligible families. Eligibility criteria for school clothing grants (i.e. who can apply) is set by local councils. Further information, and a direct link to local council websites, is available on the mygov.scot website.
Free school meals
Every child in Scotland at a local council school can get free school lunches in primary 1, 2 and 3. If your child isn't getting free lunches at this age, please contact their school or your local council directly. After primary 3, you can still claim free school meals for your child if you are in receipt of qualifying benefits. Details of those qualifying benefits are available on the mygov.scot website.
Note: older pupils aged above 16 can also receive free school meals if they receive the same qualifying benefits in their own right.
More information on help with school costs can also be found here.
You can get Child Benefit for any of your children who are under 16 and live in the UK. If they stay in most types of school, college or training after that age you can get Child Benefit until they're 20. Only one person can claim Child Benefit for a child. If you get Child Benefit, you will get £20.70 per week for your eldest child. You will get £13.70 per week for every other child. You should claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born or, if they're adopted, as soon as they come to live with you. Child Benefit can only be backdated for up to 3 months so if you claim it any time after this you'll miss some payments.
Visit www.gov.uk for more information on how to claim Child Benefit.
Guidance on eligibility, how to claim and how to challenge a decision is available here.
Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit
Child Tax Credit is another payment made by the government to help with the cost of bringing up a child. While every child in the UK is eligible for Child Benefit, not every household is eligible for Child Tax Credit, it depends on your circumstances including your income how many children are living with you whether your child has a disability.
You will be able to get Child Tax Credits if you already receive:
- Income support
- Income-based Job seekers allowance
- Income-related Employment and support allowance
- Child tax credit up to a maximum income of £16,190 per annum
- Universal credit with an income limit of £610/month
The government is currently introducing Universal Credit, a new type of benefit which will eventually replace tax credits including Child Tax Credit. Visit https://www.gov.uk/ for more information on Child Tax Credit, and whether Universal Credit has replaced it in your area yet.
Financial Help if you have a child with disabilities
If you have a child with disabilities and you have stopped work to care for your child, money can be a big strain. However, you may be able to get financial help if you have a disabled child. There's the Disability Living Allowance for Children to help with expenses if you're a full-time carer for your child, as well as the Carer's Allowance and if your child is aged 16 or over they may be entitled to Personal Independent Payment (PIP).
Energy, bills and household support and benefits
Warmer homes is an online energy tool.
Home Energy Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to provide advice and help with home energy efficiency measures to make your home easier and cheaper to heat. The types of measures offered under the various Scottish Government funded schemes include insulation, heating systems and energy efficient doors and windows.
Home Energy Scotland
Home Energy Scotland can also refer you for independent advice on switching to ensure you are on the most suitable energy tariff for your needs. You can contact Home Energy Scotland by calling 0808 808 2282 Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and on Saturday from 9am to 5pm or you can request a call back here.
Council Tax discounts, exemption and reductions
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme reduces how much council tax someone needs to pay, depending on their income and circumstances. You can apply for a Council Tax Reduction whether you own your home or rent, or whether you’re working or unemployed. The biggest reduction you can get is 100% off your annual bill. For more information and how to apply, visit https://www.mygov.scot/ where you can find out more about council tax discounts, exemption and reductions.
Changing Energy Supplier
Changing your energy supplier is easy and could save you several hundred pounds per year, especially if you have never switched before. You just need some basic information that you will find on your energy bill. The best way to do it is to use an accredited price comparison service. You can do this online or over the phone. It is generally cheaper to pay by direct debit to get the best tariffs available.
However, there is currently a cap on prices that can be charged for prepayment meters so these are not as expensive as paying quarterly.
The energy regulator Ofgem has a list of accredited price comparison sites. This makes sure that the information that they provide is fair and accurate.
List of comparison sites:
- The Energy Shop
- Simply Switch
- My Utility Genius
- Switch Gas and Electric
- Unravel It
- Money Supermarket
- Energy Helpline
What you will need:
- Your annual use in kWh units, or the annual cost of your energy. Every energy supplier must provide this information on their bills.
- The name of your current tariff and your energy company.
- Your payment method – whether it’s direct debit, prepayment or pay on receipt of the bill.
- Your postcode.
- Your bank details (if paying by direct debit). If you do not have this information you can use average consumption figures instead – based on Ofgem averages. You may have to do this if you have just moved into the property
Priority Service Register - Register for extra help during a power cut
If you have a child under the age of five, you can register with your electricity network provider for additional help and support during power cuts.
To find out more about this free service, or to register for the Priority Service Register, please contact:
- If you live in the north of Scotland, including the Scottish Islands: Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) on 0800 294 3259 or by visiting www.ssen.co.uk/PriorityServices
- If you live in central or southern Scotland: Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) on 0330 10 10 167 or by visiting www.spenergynetworks.co.uk
If you are unsure who your network provider is, visit www.energynetworks.org/info