Make the most of benefits
1) Claim Child Benefit
You can currently claim Child Benefit as soon as your baby is born - just fill in this form.
You'll get £20.30 a week for your eldest/only child, and an extra £13.40 for any additional children. It's currently not means-tested, so you can claim it no matter what your income is. However, from 2013, if you earn £44,000 a year or more, you will no longer be eligible for such payments.
You can get a claim backdated but only for three months.
2) Claim Tax Credits
When you have a baby, you may be able to claim Tax Credits.
How much of a credit you can claim obviously depends on your circumstances, and it’s worth having a little play with the HMRC Tax Credit tool to see if you qualify, and how much for.
As a rough rule of thumb, you might not get Child Tax Credit if your yearly income is more than £26,000 and you have one child, or you have two children and your income is more than £32,200. But if you have more than two children, pay for childcare or you or your children has a disability, you may be eligible.
The basic amount is up to £545 a year.
You can get extra Tax Credits to help pay for childcare if you qualify for Working Tax Credit and use an approved childcare provider.
You can get up to £122.50 a week for one child and up to £210 a week for two or more children.
If you get childcare vouchers from your employer, this can affect the amount of Tax Credits you'll receive.
Use HMRC's Better Off calculator to see if you'll be better off using childcare vouchers or claiming Tax Credits.
3) See if you can apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant
If this is your first baby, you're on a low income and are receiving certain benefits such as Income Support and income-related Jobseekers' Allowance, you could be eligible for a grant of £500.
You must claim within 11 weeks of expecting the baby or up to three months after the birth.