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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.

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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 £151.97 (2021/22) a week for 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for 39 weeks, or
  • £27 a week for 14 weeks.

You also get Class 1 National Insurance credits automatically while you’re getting Maternity Allowance. These credits are important because they count towards your State Pension entitlement.

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Impact on other benefits

Maternity Allowance might affect how much you get for:

  • Universal Credit
  • 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.
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The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who haven’t reached State Pension age.

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Some individual benefits aren’t affected, but it might affect the total amount of benefit you get.

Who gets Maternity Allowance?

You might be able to get it for 39 weeks if:

  • you’re employed but can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay
  • you’re self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions – including voluntary 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.
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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. It will be 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 National Insurance contributions.

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If you haven’t been paid enough to get the full rate of £151.97 a week (2021/22), 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 call 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.

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What if you can’t get Maternity Allowance?

If you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance, it’s a good idea to try applying for Universal Credit. 

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Get more help with maternity benefits

Are you pregnant or just had your baby, and don’t think you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance? Then it’s important to talk to an experienced adviser – for example, at a Citizens Advice or a Jobcentre Plus.

Find your nearest branch on the Citizens Advice website

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, find your nearest Jobcentre Plus on the GOV.UK website Or call 0800 055 6688.

If you live in Northern Ireland, call NI Direct on 02890 823 318.

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Maternity Allowance contact number and claim form

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland

Fill in the Maternity Allowance (MA1) claim form on the GOV.UK website

Or call 0800 055 6688

If you live in Northern Ireland

Call NI Direct on 02890 823 318

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