If you are under 16, there are only a few benefits you can claim in your own right.
Benefits whilst you are pregnant
You will usually be able to get Healthy Start vouchers towards the cost of milk, fruit, pulses or vegetables whilst you are pregnant. You should ask your midwife about these. In Scotland, Healthy Start vouchers have been replaced by Best Start Foods.
In Scotland only, you can get a Best Start Grant when you are pregnant or after your baby is born (you do not need to be on benefits).
Benefits when your baby is born
You can usually claim when your baby is born, but there may be a choice about whether you, or an adult you live with, claims Child Benefit for your baby. Get advice if you are not sure what to do.
If you live with your parents or someone else who looks after you, they may be able to claim Child Tax Credit for you and your baby if they have an existing Tax Credits claim. Otherwise, they may have to claim Universal Credit instead. Depending on their circumstances, they may also be able to claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant for you, and Healthy Start vouchers may carry on after your baby is born. If you live in Scotland, you can get the Best Start Grant after your baby is born if you haven’t already claimed it, and Best Start Foods can continue (you don’t need to be on benefits to get these whilst you are under 18).
If you or your parents have come from outside the UK, rights to claim benefits may depend on their immigration status. You should seek advice if you are not sure whether you or your parents can claim.
If you are a single parent (not living with a partner) and you live in England or Wales, you can contact Gingerbread for advice. In Scotland, you can contact One Parent Families Scotland and in Northern Ireland, Gingerbread NI. If you live with a partner, you can contact our helpline.
Once you are 16
Once you are 16, there are more benefits you can claim in your own right. Have a look at our information.
This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.