More cash for mums as Maternity Allowance rises

More money for mothers who take time off to care for newborns

  • Maternity benefits can be useful for low-income or self-employed people
  • The increase in the Maternity Allowance will take effect on Monday, the DWP has confirmed

Financial aid for mothers taking time off to care for their newborn will be increased by £600 on Monday, marking the largest-ever increase in maternity benefits.

Anyone eligible for the standard rate of benefit will receive a 10.1 per cent increase, worth £15.82 per week, or £617 in total, the Department for Work and Pensions said.

The cash boost begins tomorrow and is expected to benefit approximately 40,000 mothers on maternity leave this year.

The benefit provides financial assistance to those who are not eligible for the statutory maternity benefit.

Boost: Maternity benefit will be increased in the UK this month

DWP Minister Viscount Younger van Leckie said: ‘We want every child to have a good start in life, so we are increasing our support for mothers.

“This builds on our expansion of free childcare for working parents starting this summer, alongside an increase in the Universal Credit childcare cost cap and further assistance with prepayments.

“These changes will help parents progress at work and earn a better income to support their families.”

Who is entitled to maternity allowance?

According to the DWP, maternity benefits provide a safety net for women before and after childbirth for up to 39 weeks and are designed to cover those who are ineligible for statutory maternity benefits, usually because they are low-wage or self-employed.

Maternity allowance can be applied for from 26 weeks of pregnancy. If you submit a claim within three months after the birth, you are still entitled to the full payment for 39 weeks. Claims after that will receive some payments, but not the maximum amount.

Where can I find more information?

Have a look at the You can see if you are eligible for maternity benefit on the government’s website.

To apply, you will need a Maternity Allowance Application Form (MA1).

Before completing the form, make sure you collect proof of income and due date information.

You will receive a decision on your application for maternity benefits within 20 working days and can appeal if you are rejected.

You can get 39 weeks of maternity benefit if you have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is born, or earn £30 a week or more in at least 13 of those weeks.

You may still be eligible if you have also recently retired from work. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had several jobs or bouts of unemployment, according to the DWP.

In addition, you may still be eligible for the benefit if the baby is either stillborn from the beginning of the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy, or is born alive at any point during the pregnancy.

It is crucial that you communicate changes in your circumstances while you are receiving Maternity Allowance, for example when you return to work.

The UK government administers maternity benefits for England, Wales and Scotland. It has been carried over in Northern Ireland, but mothers there have the same benefit. Northern Ireland will increase the benefit and statutory maternity benefit by the same amount from 10 April, from £156.66 to £172.48 per week.

The DWP said: ‘Together, these new pregnancy rates, as enshrined in law, will protect hundreds of thousands of mothers as they take time off to have a baby.

‘Over the period 2021-2022, the Department for Work and Pensions paid £360 million in maternity benefits, supporting 46,000 mothers during and after pregnancy.’

Working mothers receiving their employer’s standard rate of statutory maternity pay have also seen an increase of 10.1 per cent, or £15.82 per week, since April 2.

What other support is there?

1. The government is also providing additional financial assistance to mothers receiving Universal Credit who are unemployed or on low incomes, according to the DWP.

Parents receiving eligible income-related benefits for the first time, such as Universal Credit or tax credits, can apply for a one-off allowance of £500 to help pay for baby essentials.

2. For parents on benefits who want to work or extend their hours, the universal childcare credit cap will be raised this summer, meaning that the government will pay more of parents’ childcare costs. Parents on benefits will also be helped to pay their childcare costs up front rather than in arrears if necessary, making it easier for them to get into a billing cycle.

3. From April 10, Universal Credit will be increased by 10.1 percent. This is in addition to additional cost-of-living payments totaling £900 paid to millions of households on means-tested benefits.

The first of these payments worth £301 will be paid between Tuesday 25 April and Wednesday 17 May 2023. Further payments will be made in Autumn 2023 and Spring 2024.