Maternity Pay for Unemployed

Call the Maternity Allowance helpline on 0843 178 4195 to see if you can claim.

Pregnant people who are in employment can usually claim Statutory Maternity Pay from their employer. However, if you do not qualify for SMP, then there are other options for financial support when you are having a baby. The type of benefits that you can claim and the amount that you can get will depend on your circumstances. Read this guide to see which benefits are available if you are pregnant and unemployed.

Maternity Allowance

You might be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead of Statutory Maternity Pay. If you are claiming other benefits, this could affect them. You can claim Maternity Allowance after being pregnant for 26 weeks and start receiving payments 11 weeks before your due date. It is paid every 2 or 4 weeks and counts towards your benefits cap. You can only get the full rate of Maternity Allowance for the maximum 39 weeks if you have been in employment, including self-employment, for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the baby is due. If you have not been paying National Insurance contributions for 13 of the 66 weeks, then you cannot get the full amount. Unemployed people who are pregnant are likely to only qualify for the lower rate of Maternity Allowance. This is £27 per week for 14 weeks. To claim this benefit, you will need to print out a claim form, fill it out, and post it to the address on the form, along with the required supporting documents. You can check your eligibility here.

Unemployment Benefits for Maternity

If you are not in employment, then you may already be claiming benefits to help with your living costs. Universal Credit is now replacing most of the old benefits, so if you need to make a new claim, it will most likely be for this. If you claim Maternity Allowance as well, this will reduce your Universal Credit entitlement. The amount that you will receive for this benefit depends on how many children you have, if you have a disability or health condition, and if you need help with housing costs. These are the standard monthly allowances for Universal Credit:

  • £251.77 – Single person under 25 years old          
  • £317.82 – Single person 25 or over          
  • £395.20 – Couples both aged under 25
  • £498.89 – Couples when either person is 25 or over

Once your baby is born, you can claim an extra amount on top of your standard allowance for them. This is £231.67 per month if they are your first or second child. You will not be able to get the extra amount for any further children unless they have a disability. You might also be entitled to an extra amount if you need help to pay for childcare costs or a health condition affects your ability to work. It is possible to apply for Universal Credit online. You won’t have to look for work from 11 weeks before the due date up to 2 years after the baby is born if you will be the caregiver. You could also receive Child Benefit at a rate of £20.70 per week if the baby is your first child or £13.70 per week if you are already claiming it for an older child. Fill out the claim form and send it to the address on the form. It can take up to 3 months to process new Child Benefit claims.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

If this is your first child, then you may be able to get a one-off payment of £500. This will not affect other benefits and you will not have to pay it back. However, to qualify, either you or your partner must be receiving at least one of these benefits:

If you already care for a child under 16 years old, you could still get the grant if the child is not yours, or if you are expecting twins. This grant increases to £1,000 if you have triplets. You have from 11 weeks before the due date to 6 months after the birth to claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant. To make a claim, you need to fill out the claim form, get a health professional to sign it, and mail it to Freepost DWP SSMG. They will send you a letter to tell you whether your application was successful or not.

Maternity Pay for Students

If you are not working because you are a student, then obviously your circumstances will be different. You may still be able to claim Maternity Allowance at the lower rate. There are no specific benefits for students during pregnancy. However, after the child is born and you return to your studies, you can then get financial support for your studying and childcare costs. The Care to Learn Grant can pay £160 per week to your childcare provider if you are under 20 years old on a publicly-funded course. If you are a full-time university undergraduate student, then you could get the Parents’ Learning Allowance of £50 up to £1,716 a year. Unlike other student finance, you will not have to pay this back. It will be paid in 3 instalments throughout the academic year. You may also be eligible for a Childcare Grant if you are in full-time higher education and have a child under 15 years old. This will cover 85% of your childcare costs up to £169.31 per week if you have one child, or up to £290.27 per week if you have 2 or more children. It is also paid in 3 instalments, one at the start of each term, and does not have to be paid back. These can all help you to continue to get your education when you have had the baby.