|Make sure you claim these benefits in the right order! I’ll talk about this at the end of this page.|
Statutory Maternity Pay
Technically this isn’t a benefit. It’s really a sort of minimum wage for women on maternity leave. Here’s the key details:
- You need to have been employed, without any breaks, for at least 26 weeks until the 15th week before the week in which your baby is due;
- You normally need to earn on average £113 per week;
- There’s eleven weeks or less before the baby is due;
- You get it from your employer. If you want it you must ask your employer at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.
- You can get Statutory Maternity pay for 39 weeks: the earliest you can get it is 11 weeks before the baby is due.
- You are entitled to 90% of your normal gross earnings for the first 6 weeks;
- You are then entitled to £140.98 per week, or 90% your normal gross earnings, whichever is smaller, for the remaining 33 weeks.
This is a sort of consolation prize if you’re not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay. You need to fit the following rules:
- You must have been employed, or self-employed, for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the week in which your baby is due;
- Your average weekly earnings, over any 13 weeks of this 66 weeks, are £30 per week or more. You can choose which weeks to use, and the weeks don’t have to all be next to each other;
- Unlike Statutory Maternity Pay, you claim this from the Jobcentre Plus, not your employer.
- Like Statutory Maternity Pay, you can get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks: the earliest you can get it is 11 weeks before the baby is due.
- You are entitled to £140.98 per week, or 90% of your average gross earnings , whichever is the smaller.
|If you are employed in the 15th week before the baby is due the Jobcentre Plus will expect you to apply for Statutory Maternity Allowance from your employer first: if your employer does not give you this they should give you a form (SMP1) to show the Jobcentre Plus.|
- To get this, you need to have a child. Not very surprising, I know, but this means that you cannot get this until the baby is actually born.
- It’s the key benefit, because you need it to show the other benefits offices that you have a child.
- Unless your annual income is more than £50,000, the amount you get is fixed: everyone gets the same. The current weekly amount is £20.70 for your first child (you get an extra £13.70 for each other child): this means, for example, that if you’ve just had twins you’ll be entitled to £34.40 per week.
- You claim it from part of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC for short) called the Child Benefit Office.
- You may get a claim form with the ‘bounty pack’ you’re given after the baby is born, but if you don’t you can either claim it online or by phoning the Child Benefit Helpline on 0300 200 3100.
- Child Tax Credit: again, to get this you need to have a child. Normally getting Child Benefit should be enough to show this.
- Working Tax Credit: to get this you need to be in what the government call ‘full time work’: for single parents this normally means 16 hours per week. Crucially for you, you are treated as being in full time work while you are on ordinary maternity leave, although in some circumstances this doesn’t apply until the baby’s actually born
- Tax Credits are administered by part of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs called the Tax Credit Office. Unlike Child Benefit, however, they also feel rather like a ‘tax-y’ sort of things. So when you claim them, they initially work out how much they expect you to be entitled to for the rest of the tax year, and then divide that into weekly chunks, and then check things again after the end of the tax year. One result of this is although I have given weekly amounts below, these are approximate, unlike the amounts I give for other benefits.
- This is where it gets a little bit complicated…
- The amount of Child Tax Credit you get depends on how many children you have, what other money you have coming in, and whether any of your children are disabled.
- The amount of Working Tax Credit you get depends on whether you (normally) work 30 hours or more per week, and what other money you have coming in (in your case, this is probably your earnings).
- If you have savings, the interest on the savings counts as income: the savings themselves don’t affect the calculation.
- If your gross annual income is less than £6,420 per year (roughly £535 per month, or £123 per week), it doesn’t affect the amounts of tax credits that you get.
- If your gross annual income is more than £6,420 per year, your tax credits are reduced by 41p for every £1 above £6,420. They start by reducing your Working Tax Credit, and if that all gets ‘used up’ they then reduce your Child Tax Credit.
- Now, you need to remember here that the Tax Credit Office works things out on an annual basis. This means that initially the figure they use for your annual income is the income you received in the previous full tax year, not the amount you’re actually getting at the moment (your maternity pay).
- Let’s look at a fairly simple example to give you an idea of how things pan out…
Two things have changed from 6th April 2017:
|If you want to get your tax credit calculations exactly right, you need to take into account of the fact that yearly amounts are scaled down to daily amounts, rounded up to the nearest whole penny, and they scaled up again. To make things easier to understand I ignore this complication in this website. The difference, in my opinion, is to small to be worth worrying about: for example, for a family with two non-disabled children the difference would be £1.00 over a whole year. However if you use my approach and your answers don’t exactly match the ones in the Tax Credit Office letters, this is why.|
was working 29 hours a week but is now on maternity leave: she has
just had her baby: the baby was born on 7th May. She is 27 years
old. She and the baby are in good health and not disabled. She
normally earns £261 per week gross, which works out as £13,609 per
year. She’s been in her current job for a couple of years.
As she was working less than 30 hours per week, she would not be entitled to Working Tax Credit until she became a (single) parent (if she was less than 25 years old she wouldn’t have been entitled to Working Tax Credit until now even if she worked more than 30 hours per week).
She would initially receive about £63 Child Tax Credit and £19 Working Tax Credit, based on her previous year’s income. This might well be revised upwards later as her actual income will almost certainly less than normal due to being on maternity leave.
Remember that this is an initial assessment, and does not take into account the fact that Jasmine’s actual income will probably be less than normal.
- Although there are unusual situations in which people on maternity leave might be entitled to Income Support, if you are on maternity leave it is hard to see how you could be entitled to it, as you should be getting either Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance and these almost always rule out getting Income Support.
- If you’re not getting either of these, though, then this is how it works out. This is slightly more complicated than you might think, because there are actually four different periods to think about, with slightly different reasons why you’re entitled in each case.
- You can start getting Income Support while your pregnant, if you’re not well enough to work because of the pregnancy, and your income is low enough.
- You can start getting Income Support if there are 11 weeks before the baby is due, whether you are unable to work or not, and your income is low enough
- You are entitled to Income Support for the 15 weeks after the baby is born. This isn’t because you’re a single parent, but simply because you had a baby less than 15 weeks ago, and your income is low enough: in principle people who have a partner can get this as well
- After the 15 weeks are up, you are still entitled to Income Support because you are a single parent (if you weren’t a single parent it would stop now), and your income is low enough.
- Even if these things apply to you, you will not be entitled to Income Support if you are actually working 16 hours or more per week (this won’t apply to you until you go back to work)
- The amount you get will be reduced if you have other income (although some income is ignored, including the other things on this page) or if you have too much savings or other capital.
- If you have no other income or savings, the amount you get each week will usually be £73.10, or £57.90 if you are under 18.
- You can claim Income Support by phoning the Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
- This is different from the others, as it’s a one off payment: you are normally only entitled to it once, when you have your first baby.
- You can apply for it from 11 weeks before the baby is due to three months after the baby is born (this is the date the baby is actually born, not the date they were supposed to arrive). Do not leave it too late: if the Jobcentre Plus get it after three months after the baby’s born you will definitely not get a grant.
- You can’t get it unless you are also getting one of a list of other benefits: in your case, the ones I need to mention here are Income Support and Child Tax Credit: you can get a grant if you get any Income Support, or if you get more than £545 Child Tax Credit per year (about £10.45 per week)
- You get £500: neither more nor less. • To claim it you need to get hold of a SF100 form, either online or via the Jobcentre Plus.
- This is money to help towards your rent. Obviously you need to be renting somewhere first, so if, for example, you are temporarily living with friends or relatives, this won’t apply.
- The amount you are paid depends on your income and capital, amongst other things.
- It is paid by your local authority (council).
- If you want more information about Housing Benefit, click here
Council Tax Support
- This is money to help pay your Council Tax. Again, if you’re just staying with friends or relatives, this won’t apply.
- The amount you are paid depends on your income and capital, amongst other things. The amount also depends on which local authority (council) you pay your council tax bill to.
- It is paid by your local authority (council).
- If you want more information about Council Tax Support, click here.
When to claim what (unless you’re entitled to Income Support)
- Ask your employer for Statutory Maternity Allowance more than 15 weeks before your baby is due;
- If your employer says it is not going to give you Statutory Maternity Allowance, make sure they give you a SMP1 form and then apply for Maternity Allowance, provided that there is 15 week or less before the baby is born;
- If you are refused Maternity Allowance as well claim Income Support first: if you have health problems while pregnant claim then; otherwise wait till there’s less than 11 weeks left and then claim. To avoid complications about how the due date is calculated I suggest applying when there’s about 9 weeks left.
- Claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support when your normal earnings stop (unless you’re not renting anyway yet. If you’re not entitled then try claiming it again when your baby is born. If you do get awarded it before your baby is born still tell them when this happens, as you may be entitled to more.
- As soon as you can after the baby is born claim Child Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credit. You don’t need to do it immediately, but it’s sensible to claim it these in the first month. This is because you can get Child Tax Credit backdated, but only up to a month.
- Claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant next. Ideally, wait until you know that you’ve been awarded Income Support before doing this, but if the due date is approaching and they still haven’t made a decision, claim anyway.
|If you are getting close to the three month time limit and still haven’t received a Child Tax Credit award, make a claim for it anyway before the three months runs out. If this is refused don’t worry: just wait until you are awarded Child Tax Credit, and then make another claim for the grant within three months of this. This only works if you’ve made a first claim for the grant within three months of the baby being born.|
|The Tax Credit Office will ask you for your Child Benefit Number, which you won’t have at this stage, but don’t worry about this. Just make sure you tell the Tax Credit Office when you get given a Child Benefit number|