What is a Sure Start Maternity Grant and how do I claim it?

Our advisors are regularly asked questions by parents concerned about the cost of having a baby and wanting to do all they can to be prepared. There can be some support towards these costs for parents who are entitled to benefits through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

What is the Sure Start Maternity Grant?

The Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500, paid to families on a low income, to help with the costs of a new baby. This grant does not have to be repaid and does not affect your eligibility for other benefits.

Can I get a Sure Start Maternity Grant?

You usually qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you live in Northern Ireland, England or Wales, so long as both of the following apply:

  • you’re expecting your first child, or if you already have children you’re expecting a multiple birth (such as twins)
  • you or your partner already get certain benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • Pension Credit
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
    • Universal Credit.

If you are pregnant and not getting any of these benefits you may become entitled to the Sure Start Maternity Grant after the baby is born, check with one of our Family Benefits Advisors on 028 9267 8200.

You can claim the grant from 11 weeks before the baby’s due date or up to 6 months after the baby’s birth.

If you live in Scotland, the equivalent grant is called the Best Start Grant. The Best Start Grant in Scotland is made up of three one-off payments, and can be claimed for each child within an eligible family, although the amount is decreased for subsequent children. It is not limited to a first child or where there is a multiple birth. Further information is available here.

What if I already have a child?

To be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, there must usually be no other children under the age of 16 in the household except where:

  • there is another baby from the same pregnancy (such as twins)
  • the only other child under 16 is the parent of the baby being claimed for
  • the only other child aged under 16 is a dependent child of the person claiming and the child being claimed for is the child of another dependant aged under 20
  • you, or a dependant aged under 20, are expecting a multiple birth (such as twins).

You may also be able to get a grant if you’re adopting or becoming a surrogate parent. The baby must be less than 1 year old on the date you claim. You must be receiving one of the benefits above and one of the following must also apply:

  • you’ve become responsible for the baby and you’re not the mother
  • the baby has been placed with you for adoption
  • you’ve got permission to adopt a baby from abroad
  • you’ve got a parental order for a surrogate birth
  • you’ve been appointed as guardian
  • you’ve an adoption or a residence order.

If you’re becoming responsible for a child through adoption, you must claim within six months of the child being placed with you.

How much will I get?

You will normally only be able to receive one payment of the £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant which will be for your first eligible child.

However, if you already have children under 16 you may be able to get a grant if you’re expecting a multiple birth. 

Number of children under 16 from other births Grant if you have twins Grant if you have triplets
You have 1 or more (none of whom are from multiple births) £500 £1,000
You’ve already had twins £0 £500
You’ve already had triplets £0 £0

Payment will usually be made directly into a bank, building society or other account that you have nominated.

How do I apply?

 In Northern Ireland you apply by completing claim form SF100 (Sure Start).  You can get a claim form from your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office, or you can download it from NI Direct.

If you live in England or Wales, you can get a claim form from your local Jobcentre Plus, or download it from the gov.uk website.

For similar support if you live in Scotland see www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods

If you require any further information on the financial support available for parents, please contact our Family Benefits Advice Service for free, confidential and impartial advice on 028 9267 8200 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org.