From maternity pay to Child Tax Credits, there is financial help out there for parents. Here are some of the benefits you may qualify for.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
You are eligible for statutory maternity pay if you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the week of your due date and earn on average at least £107 a week. You will need to claim at least 28 days before you would like SMP to start, and your employer will need proof that you are pregnant - a letter from your GP or MATB1 certificate from your midwife or GP. SMP is paid at 90% of your weekly average earnings for the first six weeks and then at a flat rate of £135.45 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less, for 33 weeks. For full details of eligibility and payments, click here. As a mum to be or new mum you're also entitled to free NHS dental treatment and prescriptions until your child turns one. Children are entitled to free prescriptions until they turn 16, or until they are 18 if they are in full-time education.
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)
New dads can take two weeks' paternity leave if they have been employed for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due. Dads can claim SPP for these two weeks, if they earn £90 a week or more. He'll get £135.45 per week as SPP, or 90 per cent of his normal weekly pay, whichever is less. Find out more here.
If you are pregnant and are not entitled to SMP, or are self-employed (and registered with HM Revenue & Customs), you should qualify for Maternity Allowance. You can find out more here.
This is a tax-free payment made if your child is: under 16; over 16 and in relevant education or training, or 16 or 17, has left education or training and is registered for work, education or training with an approved organisation. See if you are eligible here.
Child Tax Credit
You might also be entitled to Child Tax Credit, particularly if you are a lone parent; if you have one child and your annual income is lower than £26,000, or if you have two children and your annual income is less than £32,000. Payment is based on your circumstances, such as your family's income, and how many children you have. Read more about Child Tax Credit here.
Working Tax Credit
You may be eligible for Working Tax Credit if you are employed or self-employed and work 16 hours a week or more. Working tax credit can also be claimed by couples who jointly work for at least 24 hours a week. Find out more here.
Did you know that if you have a child under 18 you have a legal right to request flexible working from your employer? Click here for details.
Your employer may offer tax-free childcare vouchers as part of a 'salary sacrifice' scheme. If so, you need to decide between taking advantage of the vouchers or the childcare element of tax credits - use this online calculator to help you.
Free nursery education
From the age of three, your child is entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education a week for 38 weeks of the year. Find out more here.
Keep up to date
State benefits are subject to change at any time, so it's always worth checking the latest information on government websites - just follow the links we've provided here.