BENEFITS EXPERT: What help is available for me: a self-employed mum-to-be?

Q. I am currently pregnant with my first child and have been self-employed for some time, my partner is in full time work as an employee.

I understand that Statutory Maternity Pay can only be paid to employees so obviously this benefit cannot be paid to me as I am self-employed. Are there other forms of help available when I go on maternity leave. I know I can claim Child Benefit after the birth of the child but need to know if other help is available.

A. You may be eligible to claim Maternity Allowance, this isn’t means-tested so your partners income from his job is ignored, furthermore it isn’t contribution based so if there is any deficit in your National Insurance history that won’t mean the claim will fail however there is a minimum earnings requirement whether this is employee earnings or earnings from self-employment. You haven’t confirmed how far into your pregnancy you are but you will need a MATB1 form completed by your GP, mid-wife or any health care professional dealing with your pregnancy.

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You must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks of the test period (66 weeks up to and including the week before your baby is due). It does not matter if these weeks are split up or if they are not all for the same employer.

You must have earned at least £30/week or more over any 13 weeks within the test period. You can claim from or after the 26th week of your pregnancy. The current maximum amount of Maternity Allowance is £151.97/week.

You may also possibly be eligible for other support both during your pregnancy and after the birth of your child so it is advisable to get a benefit check to see if other help is available such as Universal Credit but this would depend on the income you and your partner receive. Even if the amount of UC is quite small it is still worth claiming as this could then entitle you to other help such as Sure Start Maternity Grant, Healthy Food vouchers, etc.