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Self-employed mums can claim maternity support.

Byline: Esther Shaw Special Correspondent

SELF-EMPLOYED mothers could be entitled to up to PS149 a week in maternity allowance. The benefit is designed to help mothers who either work for themselves or who are employed by a company but do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). The maternity allowance is also available if you do not have a job at the time of your pregnancy, but have worked for part of the 66 weeks before the baby is due.

While women in full-time employment receive statutory maternity pay from their firms, self-employed women receive maternity allowance from the Government.

This is up to PS145.18 a week or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings - whichever is lower - and is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks and currently equates to PS5,662.02 over the full term.

The weekly figure is to increase to PS148.68 from the new tax year, which begins in April.

Becky O'Connor, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: "The difference your employment status makes to your income when you take time off work for a baby is huge.

"If you are self-employed, you can get maternity allowance but this pales compared to the maternity packages that some of your employed friends might be on."

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst from adviser, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Take two people earning PS28,000 a year - one employed and the other self-employed, and both of whom take six months off," she said.

"The employed person, might get full pay for six weeks, half pay for six weeks, and then the statutory minimum of PS145.18 for the next 14 weeks - that's a total of PS6,878.66.

"The freelancer, meanwhile, assuming they qualify for maternity allowance, receives PS145.18 a week for the whole period - so a total of PS3,774.68." Recent research by mortgage broker, John Charcol, found that self-employed women take less maternity leave than their employed counterparts - taking an average of just 23 weeks' leave, instead of the full 39-week period - because they can't afford the time off.

To avoid this pressure, try to plan ahead as much as you can before you have your baby, and save as much as possible while you are still working, to cover a period of time out.

Ms O'Connor added: "Be realistic. The chances are, you will not want to rush back to your laptop four weeks after giving birth, so try to build in Fact File | To get maternity allowance, you need to have been self-employed (or employed) for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

| You must have earned PS30 or more a week for at least 13 of those weeks (the weeks don't have to be consecutive). You will get the full maternity allowance if you have paid enough National Insurance (NI) contributions.

| To qualify, you must have paid NI for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

| When you make your claim, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will check you've paid sufficient NI. If you have not, you may get a reduced rate of PS27 a week for 39 weeks.

| There is also an option to get maternity allowance of PS27 for 14 weeks. This is paid to mums who aren't employed or self-employed, but who have a self-employed civil partner or spouse.

| To claim maternity allowance, you need to download the MA1 form.

| For more information on maternity, pay, rights and benefits, visit: Gov.uk enough time to get yourself sorted with a new baby in your life. Money worries are the last thing you'll want on your mind."

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Mums-to-be need to plan ahead to maximise maternity support.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 29, 2019
Words:624
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