Benefits and debt advice

Help for parents and carers with responsibility for a child

There are many sources of financial and other assistance for parents and carers looking after a child. This note outlines some of the key options available.

As becoming a parent/carer is a major change in circumstances it is advisable to get a full benefit check to see exactly what you may be entitled to.

Child benefit

This is a universal payment for those with caring responsibilities for children under the age of 16 (or 20 if in approved education or training). For the first child a £21.05pw payment is made, subsequent children bring a payment of £13.95pw. There is no limit on how many children can be claimed for.

Earning more than £50,000 will mean a Tax Charge applies.

View more about Child Benefit on the UK Government website.

Best start grants

These are payments available through Scottish Government to help with the costs of being pregnant and having care of a child. Parents or carers need to be on a low income though those under the age of 18 are automatically entitled to this payment – even if they are not on benefits. People could still be eligible after their 18th birthday if Covid-19 meant that they couldn’t get their application in on time.

These grants provide up to 3 payments per child from pregnancy to when a child starts school. The ‘Pregnancy & Baby’, ‘Early Learning’ and ‘School Age’ payments could total £1100 for the first child.

Also a prepaid card is available that enables the purchase of specific healthy food items during pregnancy and for children under 3 years old.

Find out more about Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods on the Scottish Government website.

Scottish child payment

This is a £10 per week payment from Scottish Government for families on a low income who are in receipt of benefits such as Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance (IR), Jobseekers Allowance (IB) or Pension credit with a child under the age of 6 years old.

To claim call 0800 182 2222 or find out more about the Scottish Child Payment on the Scottish Government website.

Universal Credit

If you are claiming UC then an additional payment may be available if a child is in your household. The amount will depend on the exact circumstances of your child such as age and whether they have a disability, and what other income you may have. There are special arrangements  for families with more than 2 children.

If claiming UC and working, there may be an allowance if responsible for a child

Find more details – including on how to claim - about Universal Credit on the UK Government website.

Child tax credits

If you are already in receipt of Child Tax Credits and then have an additional child you should inform CTC immediately. If you have more than 2 children you are unlikely to receive additional assistance however there are exceptions. Please see www.entitledto.co.uk

In rare cases a WTC claimant could become entitled to CTC for the first time.

A new claim for CTC can only be made if you are in receipt of Severe Disability Premium through Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Housing Benefit.

Find more information on Child Tax Credits and how make a claim on the UK government website.

Income support

Existing Income Support claimants with a child under 5 can seek additional IS support if another child is born.

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can be claimed for children with a significant health issue where the child has care needs and / or mobility problems. It is rare for a new-born baby to receive DLA care component.  However, an award could be made if the baby has severe health problems that require significant support.

Find out more information on DLA for children on the UK government website. - 

It is also important to consider future entitlement.  For example, a baby with Downs Syndrome may not qualify until they start to show a delay in development and extra care needs.

Statutory maternity pay / maternity allowance

If pregnant, it is best to check SMP entitlement on the UK government website. Maternity Allowance may be payable if SMP is not applicable. You can check MA entitlement on the UK government website. 

It is possible to get UC while in receipt of SMP but there is a dispute about whether how being in receipt of MA is accounted for if claiming UC. Get advice if there is any query about this area.

Housing costs

The birth of a child could also mean a household is no longer ‘under-occupying’ (commonly known as Bedroom Tax) if they are renting from a housing association or the Council, so may get additional assistance with housing costs through UC or Housing Benefit.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) could be available for pregnant mothers who come under the Local Housing Allowance scheme and who won’t get the increased bedroom allowance until baby is born. See the Council webpage on DHP

Carers allowance supplement

An additional payment to those who are caring for someone and living on a low income. £230 paid to carers twice a year. Find out more on the Carers Allowance Supplement on the UK Government website.

Young carer grant

An annual payment of £305 for young carers aged 16-18 years old who are caring for someone an average 16 hours per week. Find out more about the Young Carer Grant on the UK Government website