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    What is maternity allowance?

    Maternity Allowance is a weekly payment for pregnant women who have recently given birth but do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay from their employer. It counts in full as income when calculating your entitlement to other means-tested benefits, but is ignored when calculating your entitlement to Child Tax Credit. 


    Am I eligible for Maternity Allowance?

    As a general rule, you can claim at any time once you are 26 weeks pregnant. There are two rates of Maternity Allowance, the standard rate for 39 weeks or the lower rate, which is for 14 weeks.


    Standard Rate Maternity Allowance

    You might be eligible for Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if one of the following applies:

    • You're employed, but you cannot get Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer;
    • You're self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance (including voluntary National Insurance); or
    • You've recently stopped working.

    In the 66 weeks, before your baby is due, you must also have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks, earning at least £30 a week in at least 13 weeks (It does not matter if these weeks are split up or not from the same employer).


    Lower Rate Maternity Allowance (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 at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

    You must:

    • Be married or in a civil partnership with someone self-employed;
    • You do unpaid work for your self-employed spouse's or civil partner's business;
    • Not be employed or self-employed yourself; and
    • Take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner.

    Your spouse or civil partner must be re-registered as self-employed with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and pay Class 2 National Insurance.


    Self Employed

    Maternity Allowance is not payable to the self-employed unless they have paid Class 2 National Insurance (including voluntary National Insurance). If you have not paid enough Class 2 National Insurance to get the maximum rate (£151.20 a week), you'll get £27 a week for 39 weeks. You will still need to meet all the other eligibility criteria to get this amount. You may be able to get the total rate by making early National Insurance payments. However, you should contact HMRC directly to enquire. 


    If you can't get any maternity allowance:

    You might be eligible for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).


    How much Maternity Allowance will I get? (Rates as of Jan 2022)

    Maternity Allowance (39 weeks):

    • Maternity allowance is £151.97 per week or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller amount. 
    • You will receive the total amount of Maternity Allowance if you have paid enough national insurance contributions.
    • You may receive a reduced rate if you have not paid enough national insurance contributions.
    • Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks.


    Lower Rate Maternity Allowance (14 weeks):

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


    How You are Paid

    All income is usually paid straight into your bank or building society account on a four-week basis. However, if you cannot open or manage these, you may also be paid through the Payment Exception Service.


    Impact on other benefits

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

    Maternity Allowance will not affect your tax credits, but it will affect calculations regarding:

    • Council Tax Reduction;
    • Housing Benefit;
    • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
    • Income Support;
    • Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) - this will stop if you get Maternity Allowance;
    • bereavement benefits;
    • Carer's Allowance; and
    • Universal Credit.


    The benefit cap

    Maternity Allowance is included in the Benefit Cap, limiting the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive.


    How do I claim Maternity Allowance?

    In England, Scotland, and Wales, you can download a claim form from the GOV.UK website or contact the Phone Jobcentre Plus. If you are based in Northern Ireland, you can download a claim NI Direct website or phone your Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office.


    What documents do I need to claim Maternity Allowance?

    You will need:

    • Your national insurance number;
    • You may be asked to provide proof of identity—for example, a birth certificate, driving licence, or passport; and
    • Evidence of your pregnancy. The most common form is a certificate from a doctor or midwife (MATB1). If you are claiming Maternity Allowance after the birth of your baby, you can provide the birth certificate.

    If you are employed you will need to submit an SMP1 from your employer and will need to provide evidence of your wages. E.g., payslips or a note from your employer.


    When will my Maternity Allowance claim begin?

    The earliest Maternity Allowance can be paid the 11th week before the baby is due. However, if you claim later than this, you can obtain a backdated allowance for up to 3 months.

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