Benefits If You Have Children


Having a baby is both exciting and costly but there are a number of benefits and entitlements available to give a boost to your family budget.

If you’re pregnant, you can get free prescriptions and NHS dental care with a Maternity Exemption Certificate.

You can also claim more than £1,000 a year if you have one child, and an extra £800 for additional children if you earn less than £50,000. This section details your options if your family has low income or if you’re looking for financial support during or after your pregnancy.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is a benefit that helps with the costs of raising a child if you’re on a low income. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit, so most people who need help with these costs now have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. Find out how Child Tax Credit is affected, who can still claim it and what you need to do if you're still on it.

Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is one of six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit. Most people can no longer make a new claim for Child Tax Credit and must apply for the child element of Universal Credit instead.

If you’re already claiming Working Tax Credit

You may be able to make a new claim for Child Tax Credit but you may now be better off claiming Universal Credit.

To find out what’s best for you, it’s important to get specialist benefits advice before you make a claim for Child Tax Credit. A Citizens Advice Help to claim adviser will be able to work out for you what it’s best to do.

If you’re already claiming Child Tax Credit

You’ll have to move to Universal Credit at some point.

How and when you move depends on whether you have to make a new claim because of a change in circumstances, or are asked to claim Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

If nothing changes in your life that means you have to claim Universal Credit, DWP will contact you when it's time to move so there is no need for you to do anything until then.

Child Tax Credit and childcare costs

If you’re getting Child Tax Credit and entitled to Working Tax Credit you could claim up to 70% of childcare costs up to maximum of £122.50 for one child and £210 for two children.

For more information about tax credits and childcare costs go to the Working Families website.

Help with childcare costs is more generous with Universal Credit so it might be worth comparing what you’d get. You can use the GOV. UK childcare calculator to work this out.

Make sure you get specialist advice before you make a claim for Universal Credit as once you’ve moved across you can’t move back to your old benefits.

If you need help, talk to a Citizens Advice Help to Claim adviser who can work out what’s best for you to do.

If you have a change in circumstances

You must tell HMRC within 30 days if you have a change of circumstances that could affect your Child Tax Credit. For example:

  • losing or getting a job
  • having a baby
  • a partner moving in or out.

This might mean you’ll have to make a new claim for Universal Credit. HMRC will tell you what you need to do. Call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900 to let them know about any changes to your circumstances.

Tax Credits and income changes

If your income goes up by £2,500 or more and you delay telling HMRC or wait until the next time your claim is due to be re-assessed, you might find you’ve been overpaid tax credits.

You’ll be asked to pay this extra money back. This will be either by reducing your future tax credits, or by direct payments if your tax credits have stopped.

To avoid this bill, it’s even more important to tell HMRC within 30 days of when you get the extra money. It’ll be easier for your tax credits to be adjusted, and decrease the chance you’ll be chased for over-payments later.

It also works the other way. If your income falls by £2,500 or more, you might be entitled to more tax credits. If you’re asked to repay tax credits and will struggle to pay, speak to HMRC as soon as you can.

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