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Maternity Allowance

Key information

Maternity Allowance is a weekly payment for some women who are pregnant or have recently given birth.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: There are no specific age rules

Type of benefit: Non means tested

Taxable: No

Administered by: Jobcentre Plus



You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

Maternity Allowance is money paid to some pregnant women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay from their employer because, for example:

  • they have recently stopped work to have the baby, or
  • they do not earn enough money.

Self-employed women may also get Maternity Allowance.

You must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks of the test period (66 weeks up to and including the week before your baby is due).  It does not matter if these weeks are split up, or if they are not all for the same employer. You must also have earned £30 a week averaged over any 13 weeks in your test period.

You can claim at any time once you are 26 weeks pregnant.

If you do not qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay, you might qualify for:

Lower rate Maternity Allowance

If you help your partner run their own business, you might be able to get a new lower rate of Maternity Allowance, £27 per week for 14 weeks.

To qualify you must not be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher rate of Maternity Allowance for the same pregnancy and for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due, you must:

  • be married or in a civil partnership with someone who is self-employed
  • not be employed or self-employed yourself
  • take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
  • not be paid for the work you do for the business

Your spouse or civil partner must be registered as self-employed with HMRC and should pay Class 2 National Insurance.

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How much does it pay?

Maternity Allowance is £138.18 (£139.58 from April 2015) or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller. You will get the full amount of Maternity Allowance if you have paid enough national insurance contributions.  You may get a reduced rate if you have not paid enough national insurance contributions.

Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks. The earliest it can start to be paid is the 11th week before the baby is due.

Maternity Allowance is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. See our Benefit Cap information page for more details.

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How do I make a claim?

Phone Jobcentre Plus for a claim form:

Telephone 0345 608 8610
Textphone 0800 023 4888

Download a claim form from the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)

In Northern Ireland

Phone your local Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office for a claim form

Download a claim form from the NI Direct website (link opens in a new window)

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What documents will I need?

You must give your national insurance number and may be asked to provide proof of identity, for example, a driving licence or birth certificate. 

If you are employed, you will need to send in form SMP1 that your employer will give you. You will need to provide evidence of your wages, for example, a payslip or note from your employer. 

You must also give evidence of your pregnancy. This is usually the maternity certificate from your doctor or midwife (MATB1). If you claim Maternity Allowance after your baby is born, you should provide the birth certificate.

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Can it be backdated?

If you claim late, you can get MA backdated for up to three months if you would have been entitled to it earlier. It does not matter why your claim is late. Request this when claiming.

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Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

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Change of circumstance

You must report changes in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit.

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Shared Parental Leave and Pay

From 5 April 2015, you may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP) with your spouse, civil partner or joint adopter.

See the Turn2us Shared Parental Leave and Pay guide for further details.

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Last updated: 7 April 2015

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