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Maternity Allowance

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

1. What is Maternity Allowance?


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

 

2. Can I get Maternity Allowance?

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. If you are furloughed because of coronavirus, your earnings should be assessed on what you would usually earn, and not on the 80% you have been receiving. This does not apply to people getting support through the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.

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

If you do not qualify for Maternity Allowance, you might qualify for Lower rate Maternity Allowance.

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.

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 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and should pay Class 2 National Insurance.

For further information, see Gov.UK Maternity Benefits Guidance

3. How much Maternity Allowance will I get?

Maternity Allowance is £151.20 per week or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller amount. If you are furloughed because of coronavirus, your earnings should be assessed on what you would usually earn, and not on the 80% you have been receiving. 

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 lower rate of Maternity Allowance is £27 per week for 14 weeks. The lower rate is paid if you help with your spouse's or civil partner's self-employment.

Benefit Cap

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 guide for more details.

How will I be paid Maternity Allowance?

Maternity Allowance will be paid directly into your bank, building society or Post Office account or through the Payment Exception Service if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

Maternity Allowance is usually paid every two or four weeks.

Maternity Allowance and other benefits

Maternity Allowance counts in full as income when calculating your entitlement to other means-tested benefits but is ignored when calculating your entitlement to Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Updated April 2020

4. How do I claim Maternity Allowance?

In England. Scotland and Wales

Phone Jobcentre Plus for a claim form:
Telephone 0345 608 8610
Textphone 0800 023 4888

Download a claim form from the GOV.UK website

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

What documents will I need to claim Maternity Allowance?

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.

When will my Maternity Allowance claim begin?

The earliest it can start to be paid is the 11th week before the baby is due.

If you claim late, you can get Maternity Allowance 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.

Change of circumstances

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

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

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 our Shared Parental Leave and Pay guide for further details.

5. How do I challenge a Maternity Allowance decision?

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