Losing your job, or going through a prolonged period of unemployment, is stressful at any time in your life. But it is particularly unsettling if you are pregnant. Naturally you will be concerned about how you will look after yourself and provide for your child once it is born. Here we look at the help that is available for expectant mothers.
What benefits can you claim?
Universal Credit brings together many of the benefits you used to receive separately under one payment. It replaces:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
How much you receive will depend on your situation. For example, you will get an additional payment to help you with childcare costs if you already have children. However this only applies to your first two children, apart from special circumstances such as multiple births or adoption. You may also receive additional payments if you need help with housing costs.
You can claim for contribution-based JSA separately. You will only be able to claim this if you paid enough Class 1 National Insurance contributions when you were working. However this may impact how much Universal Credit you receive if you apply for that too.
Once your child is born you will be eligible for child benefit which is £21.05 a week for your first child and £13.95 for any after that. You will receive this for all of your children as long as neither you or your partner earns more than £50,000 per year, after which the amount gradually reduces.
To find out exactly what you may be entitled to, use a benefits calculator.
What other assistance is available?
Through the National Health Service (NHS) you can access Healthy Start food vouchers, which can be swapped for the food and drink you need to stay healthy, such as cows’ milk, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and baby formula milk. You do not have to apply for this, although you may need to be receiving some benefits to be eligible.
Free vitamin supplements are also available depending on where you live. Talk to your midwife or health visitor to find out if they’re available in your area.
You may also be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a one off payment of £500 to help with the costs of a newborn baby. You must claim the grants within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within six months of the baby’s birth, and must already claim benefits such as Universal Credit.
Help with housing
There is no more important time to have a safe and secure environment than when you are pregnant or looking after a newborn.
As we have mentioned, you will receive money to help you with housing through Universal Credit. If you do not have a home and are pregnant your council must provide you with emergency accommodation. You can also apply for social housing. Each council has different rules about who is eligible, but you may be regarded as a priority if you are pregnant or have children.
If you own a home with a mortgage, the first step is to talk to your provider. They may be able to reduce your repayments by changing your mortgage to interest only or by granting you a mortgage holiday. In some situations the government will help you with the interest payments on your mortgage.
The Support for Mortgage Interest scheme is a loan that you have to pay back when you sell your home or transfer ownership. It is only open to people already receiving certain benefits.
Working with us
Another option if you own your home but are struggling financially is to sell it. If you have a significant amount of equity in the property, that’s the amount you own without a mortgage, this will give you some much-needed funds while also stopping your mortgage payments.
Clearly, if you are pregnant you need to think carefully about whether this is the right thing for you. It is important you have arranged somewhere else to move into once you leave your home.
If you decide it is the right move for you, we can help you do it quickly and with as little stress as possible. We specialise in buying homes swiftly, in as little as seven days if necessary, and we’re experienced at helping people through difficult times by making the process as smooth as possible.
We instruct and pay for solicitors, and because we only buy with our own cash funds your home does not go on the open market. This means there won’t be any viewings and there are no estate agent fees to pay, which is one of the biggest costs of moving home.
If you’d like to talk about how we can help you, please get in touch. We’d be happy to chat.