Study Reveals That 4 In 10 Women Are ‘Afraid’ Of Taking Full Maternity Leave

A new study has revealed that one in four women do not take the full maternity-allowance-ukperiod of maternity leave they are entitled to, due to concerns about job security.

The study, carried out by the National Childbirth Trust, raises a red flag regarding the rights of new mothers when it comes to the UK workplace. Although many workplaces offer generous terms for mothers-to-be (such as six months’ full pay plus three months’ half-pay in some cases) many are not so generous, and cause thousands of mothers to cut time with their newborn short in order to go back to work.

Four in ten women said they either hadn’t or would not be taking their full maternity leave. Of these women, 47 percent said this was down to worries about their job security. For others, affordability was the main concern.

Mums-to-be are usually entitled to take a full year off work, but Statutory Maternity Pay can vary from employer to employer.

Women are generally paid Statutory Maternity Pay for the first 39 weeks of their leave, which comes from the government and is paid directly into the mother’s bank account. After this period, their employer may offer them ‘enhanced’ maternity pay which can be paid for up to six months in some cases.

Mothers that don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay may still be eligible to receive Maternity Allowance from the government for 39 or 14 weeks, depending on their circumstances. This applies to women who are self-employed, work on a casual basis or have recently changed jobs.

By law, new fathers are entitled to two weeks off during the 56 days after the birth, but must have worked for their employer for 26 weeks and give the correct notice in order to take advantage.

The mother can also choose to transfer some of her maternity leave to her partner 20 weeks after the baby’s birth if she wishes to go back to work early. This too is paid by the government and is known as additional paternity leave. Fathers may be further entitled to additional paternity pay from their employer, for as long as between 2 and 26 weeks.

The survey by the National Childbirth Trust found that 37 percent of women wouldn’t consider sharing their maternity leave with a partner. Although reliance on a partner’s income and the feeling of maternal responsibility were large factors, the main concern of mothers was that their job role would change during their time away.

While it is illegal for a woman to be made redundant during her maternity leave, many have returned to work only to find that their job role had changed, often to a lower responsibility, lower status and sometimes at risk of redundancy.

In addition, it costs women £1200 on average to take their employers to tribunal for any discrimination they believe they are victim of. This might include harassment, unfair selection for redundancy, or performance management for issues related to her pregnancy.

Roslind Bragg, director of Maternity Action, says she wants the unfair fees to be abolished, as it is “essential for women to be able to exercise their rights”.

Shadow minister for Women and Equalities, Gloria De Piero, also wants more to be done for mothers and mothers-to-be in the workplace.

[quote]”There are many great employers leading the way in supporting mums and dads staying and getting on in work. But there’s a role for government, too, to spread that best practice and end discrimination.”[/quote]

 

Child Benefit Contact Number

0844 248 2560

If you have a query relating to a Child Benefit application or payment, call the child benefit contact number on 0844 248 2560 to speak with an HMRC adviser.

Child Benefit Customer Service

If you have a query that relates to the payment of Child Benefit, or an application, call 0844 248 2560. Child Benefit is paid if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16. When you call 0844 248 2560, you will hear a message welcoming you to HM Revenue and Customs. You’ll then be told that if your payments have reduced, it could be because your child has experienced a change in education, such as moving from school to an apprenticeship. The automated message will tell you that you can report a change in education online, as well as other changes. Lastly, you’ll be asked to say in a few words why you’re calling – this can be key phrases like ‘changing bank details’ or ‘my child is staying in education’.

Child Benefit Payments

There are currently two child benefit rates – one for your eldest/only child, and a rate for any additional children. Only one adult can claim per child. If your child benefit payment has been reduced or it is late, call the Child Benefit Payments helpline on 0843 557 3383. Child Benefit is usually paid every 4 weeks, but if you’re a single parent, you can get it paid weekly if you would rather. If you, or your partner’s income is over £50,000, you might have to pay a tax charge. To find out more about tax charges for high incomes, call the number above.

Child Benefit Eligibility

Child Benefit documents

 

To find out if you’re eligible to claim Child Benefit, call the helpline on 0843 596 3671. Usually, the child you’re claiming benefit for has to be under the age of 16, or under the age of 20 and in certain types of education or training. You are deemed to be responsible for a child if they live with you, or you pay the same amount as Child Benefit to look after them. Child Benefit will stop if the child begins working for money for over 24 hours a week, starts an apprenticeship or gets their own benefits. If you’re not sure whether you will be eligible for Child Benefit, call the helpline using the number above.

Child Benefit Claims

When you put in a claim for child benefit, it can take up to 12 weeks for your claim to go through. You can claim as soon as your child is born or arrives to live with you, and your claim can be backdated for up to three months. If you have any questions about the claims process, or you feel like it is taking longer than it should, you can contact HMRC via the child benefit helpline on 0843 596 3672.

Change in Circumstances

You are legally obligated to inform HMRC if there is a change in your circumstances which could affect your child benefit payment. This could include getting married or divorced, or your child leaving school and heading into full-time work. You can inform HMRC of a change of circumstance online, or by calling the helpline on 0843 596 3673.

Change Bank Details for Child Benefit

Child Benefit is paid into your bank account every week or every four weeks. This depends on the arrangement you requested when making the Child Benefit claim. If you need HMRC to pay your Child Benefit into a different or new bank account instead, you must notify them as soon as possible. The fastest way to do this is to call, especially if you receive Child Benefit weekly. Otherwise, you can just update your bank details online in your Government Gateway personal tax account. The change should go through within the next few weeks, in time for the following four-weekly payment to be sent to your newly specified bank account.

Complaints and Appeals

If you have a reason to believe that you have been treated unfairly when making your child benefit claim, you can call the helpline on 0843 596 3674. Calling this number will put you through a HMRC adviser who can help with your claim. You can also use this number to contact HMRC if you wish to appeal against a decision made about your Child Benefit claim. This is known as a mandatory reconsideration.

Child Benefit Contact Numbers

Department Contact Number Opening Hours
Customer Service 0844 248 2560 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm
Payments 0843 557 3383 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm
Eligibility 0843 596 3671 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm
Claiming Child Benefit 0843 596 3672 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm
Change in Circumstances 0843 596 3673 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm
Complaints and Appeals 0843 596 3674 Monday-Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm

Other Ways to Contact the Child Benefit Office:

You can ask a question about Child Benefit online here.

Alternatively, you can write to the Child Benefit office at:

HM Revenue and Customs – Child Benefit Office 
PO Box 1 
Newcastle Upon Tyne 
NE88 1AA 
United Kingdom 

Maternity Allowance Contact Number

0843 178 4192

If you need to contact a member of the maternity allowance customer service team please call 0843 178 4192 to discuss payments or entitlement.

Maternity Allowance Contact Numbers

Department Phone Number Opening Hours
Head Office 0843 178 4192 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Eligibility 0843 178 4193 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Payments 0843 178 4194 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Claiming 0843 178 4195 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Complaints 0843 178 4196 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Appealing 0843 178 4197 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Impact on Other Benefits  0843 178 3554 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm
Change of Circumstances/
Miscarriages
0843 178 3554 Weekdays,08:00am – 18:00pm

Maternity Allowance – 0843 178 4192

You can contact the Maternity Allowance head office regarding a number of things such as checking your eligibility, following up your claim, reporting a missing payment, investigated unexpected changes to your other benefits once you started receiving maternity allowance, reporting a change in circumstances for example changes in partner’s income or deciding to go back to work, or to inquire about general information about maternity allowance to speak to someone about any of these enquiries please call 0843 178 4192.

Maternity Allowance Eligibility – 0843 178 4193

To claim Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks, your baby must be due on or after this year’s cut-off date. To check dates regarding 14-week Maternity Allowance, you can call the contact line on 0843 178 4193 or check the Government website.  To claim for 39 weeks you must either be employed and not eligible for statutory maternity pay, you’re self-employed and pay class 2 national insurance or you have stopped working. for 39-week maternity allowance, you must have also been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks and earing (or classed as earning) £30 a week or more for at least 13 weeks (the weeks do not have to be together). You may still be eligible for if you have recently stopped working, it does not matter if you have had different jobs or periods of being unemployed. To find out if you are eligible for Maternity Pay please call 0843 178 4193 to speak to somebody from the team, when applying for Maternity Allowance, you will need to provide a few things. A proof of income, for example, any original payslips. A certificate of small earnings exemption (if applicable for the 14/15 tax year). Proof of the baby’s due date e.g a letter from a doctor or a midwife, or a MATB1 certificate. An SMP1 form (this is only needed if you have been refused statutory maternity pay by your employer). You may also need to provide details of your partner’s income, depending on your claim.

Statutory Maternity Pay

You are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer if you have been employed by the same employer for 26 weeks and you receive at least £112 (before tax) per week from your earnings. You can begin to receive your statutory maternity pay 11 weeks before your baby is due, and will be paid for a total of 39 weeks. If you are not eligible for statutory maternity pay, you may still be eligible for Maternity Allowance. For more information on Statutory Maternity Pay (including whether you are entitled to it) or Maternity Allowance, call the Maternity Allowance team on  and ask to be put through to an advisor or a member of staff who can discuss the different maternity benefits and eligibilities with you. Alternately, you can go to a benefits centre, one-stop shop or jobcentre and ask to speak to an advisor there for more information.

Maternity Allowance Payments – 0843 178 4194

If you are entitled to receive Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks, you will receive either £139.58 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less). If you are receiving Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks, you will be paid £27 a week. Maternity Allowance is paid every 2 or 4 weeks directly into your bank account. Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due. You can begin to receive your statutory maternity pay 11 weeks before your baby is due, and will be paid for a total of 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks, you will receive 90% of your average weekly earnings, whatever they may be. After this time, you will receive a flat rate of £139.58 per week for the next 33 weeks. Payment of your statutory maternity pay is transferred to you the same way as your salary is, which usually means using bank transfers and direct debit. If you are not eligible for statutory maternity pay, you may still be eligible for Maternity Allowance. Call the payments on 0843 178 4194 to team to discuss this or if there have been some problems with your payments.

Claiming Maternity Allowance – 0843 178 4195

Claiming for Maternity Allowance is as simple as filling out an MA1 form. To get your maternity allowance forms, simply find your nearest benefits office and ask for one there, apply online at the official DWP website, or call the Maternity Allowance team on 0843 178 4195 to ask to have one of the MA1 forms posted to you. You will be able to claim for 39 weeks, and this will remain the case if you are self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance; self-employed with a Certificate of Small Earnings Exception, or you’ve recently stopped working. If for 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before your baby is due, you happen to be married; in a civil partnership; self-employed or unemployed; do unpaid voluntary work; have a spouse or partner who is registered as self-employed, or you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, you may still be entitled to claim Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks.

Impact on other Benefits – 0843 178 4196

The Maternity Allowance you receive can affect your other benefits, such as Council Tax Reduction; Housing Benefit; Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; bereavement benefits and Carer’s Allowance. You will not be entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance while receiving Maternity Allowance. To discuss with a member of the team whether your benefits will be affected by your Maternity Allowance please call 0843 178 4196.

Appealing – 0843 178 4197

You should have a decision on your claim within 14 working days of applying. If you’re not happy with the decision, you must ask for mandatory reconsideration before appealing. You can make an appeal after doing so to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. Their contact number is 0843 178 4197 and you will need to fill out some forms that you can request them to send you or you can find the forms on the gov.uk website.

Change of Circumstances/Miscarriages – 0843 178 3554

You may still be entitled to claim Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if you’ve recently stopped working; have had different jobs or have had periods of unemployment. Any change in your circumstances or your partner’s circumstances must be reported immediately to your local Jobcentre Plus or by calling 0843 178 3554. If you have unfortunately suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth you may still be entitled to Maternity Allowance. If your baby is stillborn from the 24th week of your pregnancy or born alive at any point during the pregnancy (premature) you will still be entitled to Maternity Allowance.

Other ways to contact the Maternity Allowance team

For a hassle-free way to check your own entitlements to Maternity Allowance, you can use the free calculator tool which allows you to input your details and estimate your likely levels of income using maternity benefits. This will help you estimate your total Statutory Maternity Pay, or your Maternity Allowance if you don’t qualify for SMP. With this information, you can budget more effectively to make sure you aren’t caught out at this critical time, and work ahead of time to supplement your income if necessary. Concerned employers can also use the Maternity and Paternity calculators to check how much maternity/paternity allowance or adoption pay their employee is entitled to, and budget accordingly to ensure their employees can take the best possible care of themselves and their new arrival.

Maternity Allowance Head Office Address

Department Address
Head Office MAILHANDLING SITE A
WOLVERHAMPTON
WV98 1SU.

 

Printed Books Should Have Same VAT Rate As Digital, Says International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested that the same amount of VAT should be applied to printed books and media as to books-VATdigital, to create a fairer market for publishers.

Printed books are currently one of the few items that are entitled to zero-rate VAT. These also include some food items and children’s clothing.

However, the IMF has argued that it is unfair for physical books and literature to be zero-rate when e-books, digital movies and music files are subject to the standard 20%.  In the Fund’s latest assessment of the economy, in which it looked at possible solutions for reducing debt and boosting the UK’s  financial growth, it has called for VAT to be made equal across all literature platforms.

The latest report said:

[quote]”Revenue measures could include reducing tax expenditures (such as VAT zero-ratings).”[/quote]

The IMF did not specify which items should be eligible for the proposed increase; however, a recent report commissioned by the European Commission suggested that physical books should be the first things to lose the zero-rate.

Reducing zero-rate VAT on printed  literature would create a balanced, single rate of VAT across all digital and physical platforms, it said.

But others, like the European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes, doesn’t agree. She stated that she would prefer it if taxes were “equalised downwards”.

So far, Germany has lowered the rate of VAT on its audiobooks to just 7%, and is planning to make a similar reduction for its e-books. Meanwhile, France and Luxembourg have reduced their rates on digital media to 5.5% and 3% respectively.

When Europe declared a 20% VAT rate for e-books, the rule was criticised by consumers, publishers and organisations alike. The International Publishers Association (IPA) called it “discrimination” against digital media and said the situation was “technophobic, backward and unfair”.

IPA secretary general Jens Bammel called the European approach “a mess.” She said:

[quote]”It stands in the way of digital migration. With major markets like Brazil and Mexico making e-books exempt from VAT, Europe is in danger of getting left behind.

“We need consistent treatment for all book formats, and the most logical way to achieve this is by reducing VAT on e-books.”[/quote]

From January 1 2015, new VAT legislation in the EU will come into play which will tax services like broadcasting, telecoms and electronically supplied services (including e-books) at their place of consumption.

UK booksellers and literary organisations are pushing for the e-book VAT to be scrapped, which would indeed create the level VAT playing field that the IMF so desperately wants to see.

MPs Push For VAT Cut On British Tourism Trade

MPs and other high-profile campaigners are joining forces to push for a lower rate of tourism VAT in the UK in a bid to strengthen its presence in the trade.tourism-VAT-uk

The campaign, called the CUT Tourism VAT campaign, aims to bring the rate of VAT on accommodation and attractions in the UK from 20% to just 5%. It is thought the move may help to encourage people to take more holidays in the UK, as well as drawing more people from overseas to visit and take trips.

The reduced cost of holidaying the UK would also be likely to place Britain on a more equal footing with other high-tourism countries in Europe, many of which have already decreased their VAT rates on tourism.

Chairman of the campaign Graham Wason said:

[quote]”This campaign is about more than just tourism. It’s about the people, communities and jobs driven by it right across the country.”[/quote]

He added that ministers ought to “take a long term view”, and said that cutting VAT would “offer a vital lift” to many areas that have “been forgotten for too long”.

The UK is one of the just four European countries yet to cut its rate of VAT on tourist-related services. France and Spain charge just 10% VAT on hotels and holiday parks, whilst Germany charges less at 7%.

Countries like Portugal, Holland and Belgium currently levy just a 6% VAT rate on all their hotels, holiday camps and tourist attractions. Travel Weekly has calculated that a one week family holiday in south-west France in a mobile home would cost nearly £150 less than the same holiday in Britain’s Bognor Regis.

The CUT Tourism VAT campaign has become so influential that besides involving around 60 cross-party MPs, it has also received backing from the likes of The Sun, the British Hospitality Association, and some major international brands. It has been newly termed within the media as the ‘Give Us a Break’ campaign.

Dozens of small B&Bs, family-run attractions and zoos have also risen to support the cause.

Nick Varney, chief executive of theme park operator Merlin Entertainments, said:

[quote]”We have a fantastic tourism product in this country, with the most beautiful countryside, beaches, landscapes and premier league attractions.

“There are also some superb hotels and brilliant B&Bs out there. We should try and give them a break and do something good for the economy.”[/quote]

The Sun newspaper has begun a petition among its readers to show the government just how much impact a VAT cut on tourism would have.