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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Maternity Allowance

If you're pregnant or have a new baby but don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from any employer, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA) through Jobcentre Plus. Find out more, including how to claim.

Who is eligible?

You might get Maternity Allowance if:

  • you're employed, but not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay
  • you're registered self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs), or hold a Small Earnings Exception certificate
  • you have very recently been employed or self-employed

You may be eligible if:

  • you've been employed and/or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in your 'test period' (66 weeks up to and including the week before the week your baby is due) - part weeks count as full weeks
  • you earned £30 a week averaged over any 13 weeks in your test period

Earnings from your employment and earnings you are treated as having if you are self-employed are used to work out your Maternity Allowance. More information about this can be found in the leaflet 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits - NI17A'

If you don't qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead. If you have made a claim for Maternity Allowance you do not have to make a separate claim for ESA. Jobcentre Plus will automatically check to see if you can get ESA.

If you have a visa that allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom you may be able to get Maternity Allowance. If your visa includes the condition that you have “no recourse to public funds” you may still get Maternity Allowance. You will need to satisfy the qualifying conditions. The qualifying conditions for Maternity Allowance depend on your recent employment and earnings history. Because of this Maternity Allowance does not constitute public funds.

If you or your partner or civil partner are claiming benefits or tax credits you may be able to get a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

More information can be found in the leaflet 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits - NI17A'.

Who isn't eligible?

If you're entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (from any of your employers, even if you have more than one) you won't be eligible for Maternity Allowance.

How much do you get?

Maternity Allowance pays a standard weekly rate of £135.45 or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller.

MA is paid for a maximum period of 39 weeks.

The amount of Maternity Allowance you get depends on your gross average weekly earnings or the amount you are treated as earning from your self-employment. More specific information on how your payment of Maternity Allowance is worked out can be found in the leaflet 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits - NI17A'.

How is Maternity Allowance paid

Maternity Allowance can be paid every two weeks or every four weeks directly into your bank or building society.

The earliest you can get Maternity Allowance is from the 11th week before the week your baby's due. The latest you can get it is from the day following your child's birth.

All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account. This is the safest, most convenient and efficient method of payment.

Effect on benefits or tax credits

Tax credits and Disability Living Allowance are not affected by Maternity Allowance.

But while you're getting Maternity Allowance and any of the following benefits - they may be reduced or stopped:

  • Bereavement Benefits
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance will stop

How to claim

You can claim MA as soon as you've been pregnant for 26 weeks. To get a claim form (form MA1) call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday. You can also download a claim form from the DWP website.

If you're not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay from any of your employers, each of your employers must give you form SMP1 to send with your MA1 claim form.

You'll also need to give medical evidence of the date when your baby is due. This form is normally on the maternity certificate, form MATB1. This is given to you by your doctor or midwife no earlier than 20 weeks before the week your baby is due.

You'll need to give proof of your earnings. Send in your original payslips. They will be returned to you. If you're self-employed send your Small Earnings Exception certificate. If you are paying Class 2 NICs, HM Revenue & Customs will be asked to confirm your payments are up to date.

For more information contact Jobcentre Plus.

What if your circumstances change?

It's important you tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change.

If you do some work for an employer, or as a self-employed person, before your MA is due to end, you will be able to work for up to ten days without losing any MA. If you work for more than ten days, you will lose MA for the days you work after that.

You must tell Jobcentre Plus about any work you do when you are receiving MA.

Changes that don't affect the payment include:

  • going into hospital
  • going into a nursing home or residential care
  • starting voluntary work

To report a change call Jobcentre Plus on 0845 608 8610.

If you can't speak or hear clearly, call the textphone on 0845 608 8553.

Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm (lines are normally less busy before 9.00 am).

How to Appeal

If you're refused Maternity Allowance or if you have any queries about your payment, you can ask Jobcentre Plus to look again at their decision.

If you're still unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal.

What else you need to know

Each time you get pregnant you must use the expected week of childbirth of your new pregnancy to work out your allowance for that pregnancy.

National Insurance Credits are available for each complete week (Sunday through to Saturday) within your Maternity Allowance period.

If you're unemployed

If you're unemployed in the 11th week before the week your baby is due and you're eligible to get Maternity Allowance, your payments will start then. If your baby is born earlier than this, your MA will start the day after the birth.

If you're employed or self-employed

If your baby arrives before the start of the 11th week before the week your baby is due or before the date your Maternity Allowance was planned to begin, the allowance will start from the day following your child's birth.

If, in the four weeks before the week your baby is due, you're absent from work for a pregnancy-related reason, Maternity Allowance will start the day after the first complete day you were absent from work because of your pregnancy.

If you continue to be employed or self-employed into the 11 weeks before the week your baby is due, you can choose when to start getting Maternity Allowance. The date you choose will match the date that you start your maternity leave from work.


Even if your baby survives only for an instant it is a live birth and you will be entitled to MA if you qualify for it.

If your baby is stillborn earlier than the 24th week of your pregnancy you will not be able to get any MA. You may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are still working, or Employment and Support Allowance through Jobcentre Plus.

You are entitled to MA, if your baby is stillborn from the 24th week of your pregnancy. To get payment you must give evidence of the birth to Jobcentre Plus. This will be notification for the registration of a stillbirth from the attending doctor or midwife, or a certificate of stillbirth from the registrar.

More information can be found in the leaflet 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits - NI17A'.

Work abroad

Maternity Allowance is based on your employment and earnings in the UK. If you've not worked for long enough in the UK, your work abroad may be used to get Maternity Allowance. If you've worked in the European Economic Area (or in a country which has a social security agreement with the UK) this may be used towards entitlement.

You can find information about the countries which the United Kingdom has an agreement with and the benefits covered on the DWP website.

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