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Welfare benefits for families and children

There are different types of benefits and support you may be able to claim, depending on your circumstances.

Pregnancy and maternity benefits

If you're expecting a baby or adopting then you may be able to get statutory maternity pay or statutory adoption pay through your employer. Or you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance if you can't get statutory maternity pay.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

You must be an employee. Statutory Maternity Pay is paid by your employer. It's the minimum you should receive and some employers will pay more. This will depend upon your contract of employment.

You must have been employed by the same employer for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC).

You must have pre-tax earnings of at least £120 per week (in 2020-21).

Payment can usually begin from the 11th week before the EWC at the earliest for a total of 39 weeks. Seek advice if your baby is born early. The standard payment of SMP is £151.20 a week.

It may also be possible for your partner, if you have one, to claim Statutory Paternity pay for up to 2 weeks, or for you to claim Shared Parental Pay if you want your partner to receive payment for some of the SMP period. This applies to adopters too. Seek advice for details.

Maternity Allowance

If you cannot get SMP you may still be able to get Maternity Allowance.

You can get Maternity Allowance if you've worked, or been self-employed, or helped your spouse or civil partner with his or her self-employment. This can be for different employers and at different times. But you must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your expected week of childbirth.

Your average earnings must be at least £30 per week for 13 of these weeks.

Maternity Allowance is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks, normally beginning when SMP would begin. Payment is usually £151.20 weekly.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is payable from when your baby is born. It's payable if you're responsible for a child.

You do not have to be working or on a low income.

Top-up benefits if you are on a low income

If you get child maintenance, it will not count as income for low-income benefits.

If you're of working age and looking after a child or young person and you need to claim means-tested help with their living costs, you will usually need to claim Universal Credit for them if you are claiming for the first time.

If you're of pension age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit.

It's no longer possible to make a new claim for Tax Credits.

If you are already receiving Tax Credits, you can usually continue to make your claim for Working Tax Credit while you continue to meet its rules, and Child Tax Credit up until your youngest child leaves full time non-advanced education, or reaches the age of 20. If you have a change of circumstances which ends your Tax Credit claim, you will not be able to re-claim Tax Credits and you must claim Universal Credit.

If you need help with an existing claim for Tax Credits please contact us.

Child Benefit is unaffected by these changes.

If a child under 16 has a disability you may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for them. If they are over 16 they'll need to claim Personal Independence Payment.

Help with health costs

If you're on top-up benefits or a low income you may receive full or partial help with NHS costs. You can also qualify for help with heath costs because you are pregnant or recently gave birth.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

A Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off non-repayable grant of £500 which you may claim if you are on one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit/Working Tax Credit (in some cases)
  • Universal Credit

You must also have received health and welfare advice from a healthcare professional.

You can claim if you are pregnant or you have given birth or you have adopted a child within the last 3 months and there is no other member of your family who is under 16 at the time that you claim. It's very important to claim within the time limit.

Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a scheme providing free vouchers to spend on milk, plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk. Free vitamins are also available.


If your partner (married or civil partnership) has died, you may be able to claim Bereavement Support Payment. This is not available to cohabiting couples at the moment, but a change in the law is expected very soon.

Free school meals

You could be eligible for free school meals for your child.

Help with childcare costs

Get help with childcare costs and learn more about the free placements you're entitled to.

Holiday activities and food programme

The holiday activities programme offers a range of free, or low cost, school holiday activities for children and young people across Derbyshire.

Contact us

You can contact us for a full benefit check or further advice: