What is the Maternity Allowance?

The government provides a Maternity Allowance as a form of financial assistance to expectant mothers or individuals who have recently given birth and who are not eligible for statutory maternity pay.

To meet the qualifying conditions for MA you don’t have to be employed full time and you can include both employed and self employed work.

Maternity allowance is provided for a maximum period of 39 weeks and you have the option to initiate your claim starting from the 26th week of your pregnancy.

The earliest time when you can receive your initial payment is 11 weeks prior to your baby’s expected arrival.

Do I qualify for maternity allowance?

You could qualify for maternity allowance for a maximum of 39 weeks under the following circumstances:

  • If you are employed but ineligible for statutory maternity pay.
  • If you are self employed and making class 2 national insurance contributions, including voluntary contributions.
  • If you have recently stopped working.

In addition you must meet the following criteria in the 66 weeks leading up to your baby’s due date:

  • You must have been employed or self employed for at least 26 weeks.
  • During at least 13 of those weeks you must have earned £30 or more per week. These weeks do not need to be consecutive.
  • If you are uncertain about your eligibility for MA, it is recommended that you submit a claim and allow the DWP to assess your qualification.

In the event that you do not meet the requirements for MA, the DWP will automatically use the same claim form to determine if you qualify for employment and support allowance (Maternity) as an alternative.

If you think you might qualify for statutory maternity pay instead you can use our SMP guide to find out more.

Partners won’t qualify for MA but may be able to claim paternity pay from their employer.

How much is the MA?

Paid by the Department Work and Pensions (DWP) the amount of MA you will receive is £184.03 per week from April 2024 to April 2025 or if your average earnings are lower than that you will be paid 90% of that amount.

MA is generally either kept the same or increased in value at the start of each tax year which begins on 6 April every year.

If you qualify your maternity allowance will normally be paid either every 2 or 4 weeks straight into your bank account.

The online tool provided by .GOV to work out how much maternity allowance can help you work out how much maternity allowance you might be owed. You can also use it to check if you can get maternity or paternity pay or leave.

Is the maternity allowance tax free?

The maternity allowance is not classed as taxable income by HMRC so tax isn’t deducted and you don’t need to include it in your income if you complete a self assessment tax return.

National insurance isn’t taken from MA income either but you can receive class 1 national insurance credits if you receive the allowance which we will discuss further below.

When calculating means tested benefits the MA can be considered as income and typically counts towards the benefit cap which puts a limit on the total amount of benefits an individual can receive.

Apply for maternity allowance

To apply for maternity allowance you will need to fill out the MA1 claim form.

You can access the MA1 form online at or request it by calling the Department for Work and Pensions at 0800 055 6688.

Currently the DWP can only accept the MA1 by post and you can complete the maternity allowance form online or manually.

When to claim the MA:

It is important to note that the earliest you can submit your MA claim is 15 weeks prior to your expected due date.

If you still have 26 weeks of employment or self employment to complete in order to meet the eligibility criteria, you will need to submit your claim form at a later date.

If you make a qualifying late MA claim (the reason doesn’t matter) you might be able receive backdated maternity allowance for a period of up to three months.

Information to include with your MA application:

As part of the MA claim process you should submit your authentic MATB1 maternity certificate and birth certificate if your baby has already been born.

A letter from your doctor or midwife on headed paper can be accepted instead of the MATB1 and birth certificate.

If you work for one or multiple employers during the 15th week prior to your anticipated week of giving birth, you should request form SMP1 from your employer/s. This form will provide an explanation as to why you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

What happens after I have applied for maternity allowance?

The DWP usually reply within 20 working days from when they receive your claim and if you are eligible they will send you a form confirming your entitlement.

Maternity allowance and self employment

To be eligible for claiming maternity allowance you must have been self employed for a minimum of 26 weeks within the 66 weeks leading up to your expected week of childbirth.

It is a requirement to be registered as self employed with HMRC so if you are self employed and not yet completed the HMRC CWF1 registration process you should do so as soon as possible.

If you have paid at least 13 weeks of class 2 national insurance contributions in your 66 week test period you should be eligible for the standard maternity allowance.

If you have not paid at least 13 weeks of class 2 national insurance contributions in your 66 week test period you should be entitled to the lower rate of MA but may have the option to make pay more class 2 NIC’s to qualify for the higher standard MA.

Maternity allowance and universal credit

If you are receiving universal credit you have the option to claim maternity allowance.

The MA you receive will be subtracted in total from your universal credit on a pound for pound basis.

For this reason it’s important to carefully consider whether it is beneficial for you to claim maternity allowance while receiving universal credit as it could potentially affect your eligibility for other benefits.

Maternity allowance and class 1 national insurance credits

When you receive maternity allowance payments you are typically eligible for class 1 national insurance credits.

For maternity allowance claimants class 1 national insurance credits are automatically given and applied to your national insurance record.

Class 1 NI credits not only assist you in qualifying for other types of benefits but also contribute towards your state pension eligibility.

What benefits are affected by maternity allowance?

When you apply for maternity allowance it’s possible that if you are claiming other benefit payments they will be affected.

Some of the most common benefits affected are:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
  • Universal credit.
  • Income support.
  • Employment and support allowance (ESA).
  • Carer’s allowance.
  • Council tax reduction.
  • Housing benefit.

Maternity allowance contact details

The DWP have a maternity allowance helpline number 0800 169 0283 if you need support or want to let the DWP know about changes to your circumstances.

If any changes occur in your situation while you are receiving maternity allowance it’s important to report them to avoid the suspension or reduction of your maternity allowance.


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