Generous government

Bryan and I made the decision to have a baby, you may have noticed I’ve mentioned wee Owen just occasionally recently.  Anyway I have been really quite shocked, in a good way obviously, at how much financial support the government has given us in our endeavour.  Especially as I talk to non UK people on Twitter who don’t get nearly as much!  The official details are available here, or read my unofficial run down as follows.

Firstly a pregnant lady can have up to a year off work as Maternity Leave and Daddy gets 2 weeks Paternity Leave.  The government pays Statutory Maternity Pay of £123.06 per week for up to 9 months so we can give birth and look after the wee one.  Actually the first 6 weeks were 90% of normal salary (that seems a bit long ago now though!).  To help Mummy eat well and so protect the baby she is given a Health in Pregnancy Grant of £190 – not means tested or anything, anyone more than 25 weeks pregnant has been getting that since April 2009.  Then there’s Child Benefit of £20 a week from when his/her birth is registered until they turn 16, or leave full time education if that’s later.  Then there’s Tax Credits, that varies depending on your income but we’re getting a nice wee bit each month and will get more once Owen’s in full time nursery I believe.  Lastly, I think, there’s the Child Trust Fund payment.  Each child gets £250 when born and then the same again when they turn 7 years old.  Its up to the parents where they invest it and if they go low or high risk, but its only the child that can access it – once he/she turns 18.  Then they can spend it on anything they like.  Parents are encouraged to set up a direct debit to add to it so there’s a nice lump sum for the child to pay for university, put down a deposit on a flat, buy a car or go blow it in Vegas.  Who can tell what your adorable baby will be like by the time they are 18..?!  Obviously there is all the health care as well, I had a midwife’s support throughout pregnancy, birth and the first couple of weeks, I now have a health visitor.  Owen and I had drugs, tests, scans and whatever else during the whole process – all through our National Health Service.  Round of applause for them too, I keep thinking I should blog my “birth story” and acknowledge their part in the wonder that is Owen…

Anyway, that’s why I’m calling the government generous.  Obviously we’ve both paid our taxes for years already so feel quite justified in getting something back, I’m just surprised at how much people get for something they chose to do.  But please don’t think I’m ungrateful or don’t want the money – I’m happily and gratefully gathering it all in!

Of course I’m not a financial wizard so I’ve had to research it all and check out the options.  I used Martin Lewis’ website and Which? for advice and asked my Twitter friends.  I won’t bother boring you with all the thinking behind my decisions (ask if interested and I will bore you!) but I have now set up a Child Trust Fund with Family Investments through Skipton Building Society.  The £250 the government gave Owen is safely in there and anyone can add to it whenever they want – up to £1200 per year (just go to http://www.familyinvestments.co.uk/top-up and use account number C01230911G and birth date 18th October 2009 if you have pennies burning a hole in your pocket!).  Owen will then get access to anything in the account on his 18th birthday.

Just in case he turns into a mad money wasting beastie, we have decided that any gifts and other money he gets will go into a separate savings account.  Again I have done research and am going to open an account for him next time I get into town as the building society I chose won’t let you set up online.  If you are one of the kind people that gave us money when Owen was born you can be safe in the knowledge it will go into his savings account once I’ve set it up.  This will be controlled by us and we can access it anytime we need money for him – although we have to justify any withdrawals as something decent that is for Owen.  So it won’t go on camera equipment for Daddy or pretty shoes for Mummy!  Hee hee!  Hopefully we can build it up over the years and it will help him through university or something.

Anyway I’ve digressed from the point of my story, which is to say – I’m grateful that living in the UK means we get such good help in ensuring a good start to our son’s life.

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