The Sure Start Maternity Grant no longer applies if you live in Scotland but you may be eligible for the Best Start Grant instead.
Who is entitled to the Sure Start Maternity Grant?
Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500 to help you with the costs of a new child. You usually only get it if you have no other children aged under 16. You can only get it if you are on a “qualifying benefit” which covers the date when you make your claim. The benefits are:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Child Tax Credit which includes a child element or a disabled child element.
- Working Tax Credit with a disability or severe disability element.
- Pension Credit.
- Universal Credit.
If you are not entitled to a qualifying award of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit before your child arrives, it is worth checking whether you may become eligible after the birth, because your entitlement to these benefits will change when you have a child.
Strict time limits
You must also make the claim within the time limits. If you are not sure whether you are getting a qualifying benefit, you could claim anyway to make sure you are within the time limit. So make sure you claim within six months of your baby’s birth or adoption/parental order if you are not sure. You can find out how to make the claim on gov.uk.
You can claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant from 11 weeks before your baby is due up until six months after your baby is born. If you are adopting, you can only claim the grant if the child you are adopting is under 12 months when you claim. You can also claim a grant if you have a residence order for a child under 12 months, or if you have a parental order for a child by a surrogate mother. In these cases you cannot claim any later than six months after the adoption, parental order or residence order.
If you are not sure whether you meet the conditions (for example, because you are waiting for your benefits claim to be decided), then you should claim the grant within six months of the baby’s birth anyway (there is no point claiming before the birth unless you are on a qualifying benefit before your baby is born). You can let Jobcentre Plus (the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland) know about your Universal Credit or tax credits later if necessary. You may need to claim the grant again when your benefits are revised or finalised, but still make sure your first claim is within six months of the birth.
Stillbirth and neo-natal bereavement
You will be entitled to the grant if you meet the other conditions and you have a stillbirth after the end of the 24th week of your pregnancy, or if you have a baby which is born alive, even if the baby dies very soon after birth.
What if I have other children?
You can usually only get a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you do not have other children aged under 16 in your family. However if:
- You have a multiple birth, you can claim for all your babies as long as you do not have other children under 16. For example, if you have no other children and then you have twins, the maternity grant is £1000.
- You already have children because you are a kinship carer, foster carer or adoptive parent, you can still receive the Sure Start Maternity Grant for your own first-born child.
- You already have a child or children under 16 from separate pregnancies, but then have twins, you can get a Sure Start Maternity Grant in respect of the second twin (you would not get a grant if you already had twins under 16 in your family). For example, if you only have one child, and then you have twins, you could get £500 if you are eligible.
- You are claiming because the parent of the baby is under 20, you can get a grant even if you have other children under 16 (but not if the young parent already has children under 16 who live with you).
- The only child(ren) under 16 who live with you have a parent under 20 who is a member of your family, you can get a grant (for example if your youngest child is 17 and has a child, and you are pregnant).
If you do not have baby items for unavoidable reasons, you may be able to argue that you are entitled to a grant. You may have to claim it and then challenge any refusal. This could apply to you if, for example:
- you came to the UK as an asylum seeker when you already had children and then you have a new baby in the UK
- you don’t have baby items because you had to flee your home due to domestic violence.
However, if you don’t have baby items because you got rid of them, gave them away, or even if they are lost or broken, you are unlikely to qualify if you already have a child under 16.
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.