Support for families and children
If you're responsible for a child there is a range of financial assistance and support available depending on your family's circumstance.
Child Benefit is a payment that you can claim for your child. It's tax free if you or your partner individually earn less than £50,000 per year.
It's usually paid every four weeks but in some cases can be paid weekly.
The amount you get depends on how many children you have. Anyone who qualifies can claim Child Benefit, whatever their income or savings. Child Benefit is managed and paid by central government.
The two main benefits available to expectant mothers working before or during their pregnancy are:
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Maternity Allowance
Which of these you may be entitled to depends on how long you were working and whether this was for the same or different employers.
If you’re an expectant or new parent who gets some means tested benefits, you may be able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500.
Free prescriptions and NHS dental care in pregnancy
NHS dental care is free in the UK while you’re pregnant and for a year after your baby is born.
Prescriptions are free while you’re pregnant and for a year after the birth if you have a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate (MatEx). This could save you £9.35 (2022 to 23) on each prescription.
More than just a meal
If you have children at school in reception, year 1 or year 2, they're entitled to free school meals (FSM) whatever your household income is.
From year 3 onwards, your children could get FSM if you receive means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, or if you have no recourse to public funds for any reason and have a low income.
If you receive benefits, it's important that you apply for FSM, even if you don’t want your child to receive a free meal.
If your child is eligible for FSM, they'll also qualify for the supermarket vouchers during the holidays and the Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF).
Schools also receive extra government funding for every child registered as eligible for a FSM. This is can be up to £1,320 per pupil.
Find out if your child is entitled to free school meals and apply.
Supermarket vouchers during school holidays
Families with children who get FSM will receive a supermarket voucher for each child during the school holidays.
This means families can buy food over the holidays to replace the meals a child would have received during a school day. The voucher provides a great choice to families as they can be used in:
If you've already registered your child and they are entitled to FSM in Luton, you'll automatically receive your voucher from your child's school.
If you don't receive a voucher, please contact your child's school.
Those families who are in receipt of benefit-related FSM can book school aged children, from reception to year 11, into HAF funded activities.
Activities are free to access and include enjoyable activities and a healthy meal. They'll run during Easter, summer, and Christmas school holidays.
Healthy Start supports pregnant women and young families to eat well and get the vitamins they need for healthy development, helping you give your family the very best start in life.
Healthy Start prepaid card
If you're pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.
You could receive the following amounts depending on the age of your child(ren):
- £8.50 per week if you have a baby aged under one year
- £4.25 per week if you're pregnant
- £4.25 for each child aged under 4 years old
You can use this to buy from local shops:
- plain cow’s milk (whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed) - it can be pasteurised, sterilised, long life or UHT
- plain fresh or frozen fruit and veg (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients), whole or chopped, packaged or loose
- infant formula milk that says it can be used from birth and is based on cow’s milk
All pregnant women under 18 are entitled to both free vitamins and a Healthy Start prepaid card.
You can claim free vitamins if you’re pregnant or trying for a baby, are a mum with a baby under 1 year and/or have children under 4 years. These include:
- multivitamins formulated especially for pregnancy and motherhood
- vitamin drops formulated for babies and children
You can use your Healthy Start card to get vitamins for free.
If you're not eligible for Healthy Start you can:
- buy the Children’s Vitamin Drops for £2
- buy Mother’s Vitamin Tablets for £1
You can buy or claim Healthy Start vitamins from our Flying Start centres at certain times:
- Park Town Centre (LU1 3DU)
- Mondays to Thursdays: 9am to 3pm
- Fridays 9am to 12pm
- centre in Foxcubs Nursery (LU1 1TZ)
- When sessions are running (see Foxcubs timetable)
- centre in Pastures Way Nursery (LU4 0PE)
- when sessions are running (see Pastures Way timetable)
You can also purchase Healthy Start vitamins from Active Luton centres at certain times:
- Hightown Community Sports and Arts Centre (LU2 0JD, 01582 419548)
- Mondays and Wednesdays: 11am to 4pm
- Lea Manor Recreation Centre (LU3 3TL, 01582 599888)
- Monday to Friday: 11am to 4pm
- Saturdays 10am to 1pm
- Lewsey Sport Park (LU4 0PF, 01582 604244)
- Monday to Friday: 11am to 4pm
- Saturdays 10am to 1pm
If you need help with school uniforms please contact your school directly.
To get free uniforms, you can visit the Uniform Exchange with items of uniform you don’t need any more. You can swap these for items you do need.
Find them upstairs in The Mall, next to the Children’s Centre.
Clothing and essentials
Luton Clothing Bank is run by The Courtney Foundation. They redistribute free clothes and shoes to people experiencing financial difficulty in Luton.
Love Baby Essentials loans clothing and equipment to women and families who find themselves facing financial hardship due to a pregnancy and for the first year of a child’s life. It also signposts to help and support.
Real Nappies if you are an expectant or new parent you can apply for a ‘cash back’ sum of £40 against the purchase of real nappies, and covers from any company, or subscribe to a nappy laundering service.
Family Fund might be able to help if you’re raising a disabled or seriously ill child and need support with essential items.
Travel to school
Transport to school may be provided for children who would otherwise be unable to, or would have considerable difficulty, accessing education.
If you need help with the cost of childcare, there are various options available. You can also use the government’s childcare calculator to see what you might be entitled to.
You can get help with childcare costs for children under 18. You might be able to apply for:
You could also get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4. You might be able to apply for:
- free early learning for your two, three or four-year-olds
- an additional 15 hours free childcare for working parents
Use the Get childcare: step by step guide to help find childcare, get help paying for it and what to do if your circumstances change.
Childcare Choices also provides information about all the schemes available to help with childcare costs, including for school age children, before and after school and in the holidays.