Maternity Allowance

The Maternity Allowance is a weekly amount of money that you can get if you’re pregnant (or have just given birth). You usually get it when you take time off to have a baby. You can get Maternity Allowance for up to 39 weeks in total and can begin your claim as soon as you’ve been pregnant for at least 26 weeks. Many pregnant people choose, however, to delay the start of their Maternity Allowance until closer to the birth, so that they can have an income for longer once the baby is born.

Who is eligible for Maternity Allowance?

If you’re pregnant or have just given birth, here are the scenarios where you could claim

  • You’re employed but cannot get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
  • You’re self-employed
  • You have recently stopped working
  • You take part in unpaid work for the business of your spouse or civil partner

A couple of other scenarios where you may qualify would be if your baby is:

  • Stillborn from the start of the 24th week of pregnancy
  • Born alive at any point during the pregnancy

What will you get?

If you’re employed or have recently stopped working, you’ll get around 90% of your average weekly (pre-tax) earnings, up to a maximum of £151.97 a week for 39 weeks.

You can receive Maternity Allowance for up to a total of 39 weeks. That means if you take full statutory maternity leave, your final 13 weeks will be unpaid.

What if you’re self-employed?

When you’re self-employed, the Maternity Allowance you get depends on how much Class 2 National Insurance you’ve paid:

  • If you paid Class 2 NI for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due, you’ll get the full amount
  • If you haven’t, you’ll only get £27 a week, but you may be able to get the full rate by making additional NI contributions. HMRC will let you know how through a letter

From 6 April 2024 (the 24/25 tax year onwards), Class 2 National Insurance is being scrapped. However, you’ll still be able to pay this voluntarily so that you still qualify for benefits, such as Maternity Allowance.

How to apply for Maternity Allowance

All you need is to fill the MA1 form and send it to HMRC. They’ll send you their decision within 24 working days. Maternity Allowance is a tax-free benefit, so you don’t need to include it as part of your income when you’re filing a Self Assessment!

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