Thousands of new mums can get up to £184 a week with little-known benefit – see if you’re one of them

THOUSANDS of mums could get up to £184.03 to support them through their little one’s first few months through a little-known benefit.

Maternity Allowance payments are available to new mums who are self-employed, those who have recently stopped working, and mums who do unpaid work for their spouse or civil partner’s business.

New mums could be entitled to support even if they're not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay

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New mums could be entitled to support even if they’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity PayCredit: Getty

The benefit provides a safety net for women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, which is paid by employers.

Parents-to-be can apply for Maternity Allowance from the 26th week of their pregnancy and payments can start anytime from their 29th week to the day after their baby is born.

Maternity Allowance is paid every two or four weeks straight into your bank account, building society or credit union account.

Maternity Allowance can impact the rate at which other benefits are paid, but your total payments should go up or stay the same.

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Who is eligible for Maternity Allowance?

You could be eligible for Maternity Allowance if you’re self-employed, have recently stopped working or do unpaid work for your spouse or civil partner’s business.

You will need to have been registered as self-employed, or have been in employment, for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before your due date.

If you’re self-employed or have recently stopped working, you must have been earning £30 a week or more for at least 13 of those 66 weeks, but the weeks do not need to have been consecutive.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had different jobs or periods of unemployment across the 66 weeks, as long as you’ve met the 13 week requirement.

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If you do unpaid work for your spouse or civil partner’s business, you could be eligible if you’ve completed work for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

In the same 26 weeks, your partner must have been registered as self-employed with HMRC and paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

You wouldn’t be eligible if you had been employed or self-employed in another role while working for your spouse or civil partner’s business.

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How much could you be entitled to?

If you have recently stopped working, you are entitled to £184.03 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is less – for up to 39 weeks.

If you’re self-employed, you could receive between £27 and £184.03 a week for up to 39 weeks, as long as you’ve been registered as self-employed with HMRC for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your due date.

How much you will receive depends on how many Class 2 National Insurance contributions you make in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

Class 2 National Insurance contributions amount to £3.45 a week and are paid as part of your self-assessment tax bill. They entitle you to benefits including the Maternity Allowance and state pension.

To receive the full £184.03, you must have paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before the baby is due.

If you’ve paid less that 13 weeks of contributions, the amount you receive will be reduced and based on the number of payments you’ve made.

If you’ve not made any payments at all, you’ll be entitled to £27 a week.

You can top-up your contributions to increase your Maternity Allowance after you apply.

If you do unpaid work for your spouse or civil partner you will be entitled to £27 a week for up to 14 weeks.

How do you make a claim?

You can apply for Maternity Allowance from the 26th week of your pregnancy.

To ensure you’re paid as soon as you need it, you need to apply within three months of the date you wish to start receiving payments.

You’ll need to complete a MA1 Maternity Allowance claim form, which can be completed online, printed out and returned via post, or ordered, if you don’t have access to a printer.

You’ll need to provide information about your employment and earnings in the 66 weeks before your due date.

You’ll also need proof of payment, such as payslips, and proof of your due date or birth date.

If you’ve been denied Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer, you’ll need to provide a SMP1 form.

You should get a decision on your claim within 20 working days, if you are unhappy with the decision you can ask for it be reconsidered.

What other help is available?

Expectant parents could also be eligible for the Sure Start Maternity Grant, which offers those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a one-off upfront sum of £500.

You can get prescriptions and dental treatment for free while you’re pregnant and for 12 months after your baby’s due date.

Ask your doctor or midwife for a maternity exemption certificate (MATEX) to claim the free care.

And under the Healthy Start programme, you may be entitled to free milk, infant formula or fruit and vegetables if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have a child under four and you’re on certain benefits.

There is other help available for new mums including child benefits and tax credits.

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It may also be worth considering your shared parental leave and paternity pay entitlement.

And here, we explain nine ways parents can get free food, nappies and essentials for babies if they are struggling with costs.

How to apply for child benefit

YOU can make a claim for child benefit 48 hours after you’ve registered the birth of your child, or once they move in with you.

It can be backdated by up to three months if you don’t claim it straight away.

Applying is straightforward and can be done in minutes onlnine.

Parents with a newborn baby should make a claim online as soon as possible and could then receive their first payment in as little as three days.

Only one person can get child benefit for a child, so you need to decide whether it’s better for you or the other parent to claim.

The person who claims will get National Insurance credits towards their state pension if they’re not working.

National Insurance credits build up your entitlement to the state pension.

You can make a claim online by visiting www.gov.uk/child-benefit/how-to-claim.

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