If you can’t get Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be entitled to another benefit called Maternity Allowance.
What is Maternity Allowance?
Maternity Allowance is a benefit paid by the government to pregnant women who don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.
To find out whether you qualify for Maternity Allowance, use the GOV.UK calculator.
How much is Maternity Allowance?
Maternity Allowance is tax free and you’ll get either:
- 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) up to a maximum of £140.98 a week for 39 weeks.
- £27 a week for 39 weeks
- £27 a week for 14 weeks
You also receive Class 1 National Insurance credits automatically while you’re getting Maternity Allowance. These credits are important because they count towards your State Pension entitlement.
Who gets Maternity Allowance?
You may be able to get it for 39 weeks if:
- you’re employed but you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay
- you’re self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions*
- you’ve recently stopped working.
In the 66 weeks before your baby’s due:
- you must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks, and
- you must have earned £30 or more a week for at least 13 of those weeks – the weeks don’t have to be together.
Maternity Allowance if you’re not working
If you’re not employed or self-employed but you’ve been helping your self-employed spouse or civil partner with their business without being paid, you might be able to get Maternity Allowance at a rate of £27 a week for 14 weeks.
How long can I get Maternity Allowance for?
Maternity Allowance is paid for up to 39 weeks.
You can start your claim from the 26th week of your pregnancy.
The earliest you can get your first payment is 11 weeks before your baby is due.
Maternity Allowance if you’re self-employed
Maternity Allowance can be a valuable boost to your income if you’re self-employed and take time off to have a baby.
To get the full amount of Maternity Allowance, you need to have paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions* for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date.
When you make your claim, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will check you’ve paid enough Class 2 NI contributions*. Or you can check yourself on the GOV.UK website.
If you haven’t paid enough to get the full rate (£140.98 a week), you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks if you meet the other qualifying criteria for Maternity Allowance.
It is possible to make extra National Insurance contributions to make sure you get the full amount of Maternity Allowance. HMRC will tell you how to do this when you make your claim. Or contact the HMRC self-employed National Insurance helpline.
Telephone:0300 200 3500
Textphone:0300 200 3519
Outside UK:+44 191 203 7010
Lines are open: 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturday. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.
Find out about call charges.
“Being my own boss was great, but when I needed to take time off to have Josh, I thought I’d just discovered the big downside – no Statutory Maternity Pay. Then I found out about Maternity Allowance. What a relief! Dead easy to claim, and I got the maximum amount each week. More than £5,000 tax free.” – Sharon, 35 years old, mother of 2-year-old Josh
*Plans to abolish Class 2 NICs contributions have been delayed by the government until April 2019.
What if you can’t get Maternity Allowance?
If you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance you might be able to get Income Support.
Income Support can be paid from 11 weeks before your baby’s due date to 15 weeks after the birth if:
- you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay
- you have no income or are on a low income
- you are aged 16 or over
- you aren’t working, or usually work less than 16 hours a week
- you have less than £16,000 in savings.
Your partner or spouse’s income and savings will also count and they must be working less than 24 hours a week.
If you’re a lone parent, you can continue to get Income Support up until your child reaches age 5. When your baby is born, you’ll also be able to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.
Find out more about Income Support on GOV.UK.
Income Support is being replaced by Universal Credit. You will be told which benefit to apply for when you make your claim.
Find out more about how you might be affected in our guide Universal Credit explained.
Get more help with maternity benefits
If you’re pregnant or you’ve just had your baby and don’t think you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance, talk to an experienced adviser - for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau or a Jobcentre Plus.
Find your local Citizens Advice Bureau
Call Jobcentre Plus: 0800 055 6688
Call the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland: 02890 823318
To find out about other benefits and entitlements, read our guide What am I entitled to when pregnant?
To claim Maternity Allowance:
Call Jobcentre Plus: 0800 055 6688
Call Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland: 02890 823318
Download a claim form from the GOV.UK website.
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