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NiamhMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Nov-19 11:16:16

Guest post: “We’ve seen a spike in calls about delays in processing Maternity Allowance claims”

In this guest post, Katie Wood, Senior Legal Officer at Maternity Action, gives her top tips for women needing to claim Maternity Allowance

Katie Wood

Senior Legal Officer, Maternity Action

Posted on: Thu 28-Nov-19 11:16:16

(19 comments )

Lead photo

“We are very concerned that the delays are not being sufficiently addressed”

Maternity Action’s advice line has seen a spike in calls about delays in processing Maternity Allowance claims since the end of the summer. As a result of staff shortages, a backlog has built up and the Department for Work and Pensions is saying that delays are currently up to 14 weeks. Although it was hoped that this would be resolved by mid-November, it appears the delays are ongoing.

Most pregnant women who are working, or who have worked until recently, are likely to be
able to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from their employer or Maternity Allowance from the Jobcentre Plus. You can find an online calculator to work out what you’re entitled to here: www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents

Top tips for claiming your Maternity Allowance on time

- First of all, if you’re employed, you need to find out whether you can get Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer. Give your employer notice of when you want to start your maternity leave - let them know by the 15th week before your baby is due at the latest. You also need to give them your MATB1 maternity certificate.

- If you’re not entitled to SMP, your employer must give you an SMP1 form stating why you haven’t qualified for SMP.

- If you can’t get SMP, send in your Maternity Allowance claim form immediately. You can find it online here.

- Put your claim in as soon as you’re 26 weeks pregnant (unless you need to continue working to meet the qualifying conditions). You need to send in your MATB1, your SMP1 form and payslips covering a 13-week period. Don’t delay sending in your claim while you’re waiting for some of these forms. It’s very important to pick the payslips with your highest earnings in order to qualify for the full rate of Maternity Allowance (£148.68). If your earnings are lower, you’ll get 90% of your average weekly earnings for 39 weeks.

Maternity Action has had many calls and emails from women affected by the delays, many of whom are not getting their maternity pay until well after their baby is born and going for weeks with no pay


- If you’re self-employed, you can claim Maternity Allowance. If you’ve not completed a tax return in the last year, you’ll need to contact HMRC to update your National Insurance contribution record. Otherwise, you’ll only be awarded Maternity Allowance of £27, causing more delays. Once you have paid your NI contributions, your Maternity Allowance will be increased to the full rate.

What to do if your Maternity Allowance is delayed

The Department for Work and Pensions have advised us that anyone needing emergency
help can apply for an advance of their Maternity Allowance. You should ring the Maternity
Allowance claim line to apply: 0800 169 0283. You can be considered for emergency help if you’re facing domestic violence, homelessness or risk of eviction, but they must also take into account your individual circumstances and how old your claim is.

You can get free debt advice from organisations such as StepChange, Debt Advice Foundation or National Debtline if you’re unable to pay your rent, mortgage, credit cards or other essential bills. You can find free regulated debt advisers here.

What about Universal Credit claims?

If you are currently claiming Universal Credit or will be eligible for it once your baby is born, you need to be aware that Maternity Allowance is treated as “unearned income” (despite the fact that you need to work for 26 weeks to qualify for it!) and is deducted from your Universal Credit in full. This can also mean that once you are paid your arrears of Maternity Allowance, following the delays in processing your claim you may then be faced with an overpayment of Universal Credit.

Maternity Action has had many calls and emails from women affected by the delays, many of whom are not getting their maternity pay until well after their baby is born and going for weeks with no pay. We are very concerned that the delays are not being sufficiently addressed and that women on Maternity Allowance are being penalised under Universal Credit regulations.

You can get advice on your maternity pay and benefits from the Maternity Action advice line on 0808 802 0029 (national) and 0808 802 0057 (London callers) and we have information sheets available.

Maternity Action will be back to answer your questions on this thread later in the week.

By Katie Wood

Twitter: @MaternityAction

MyDcAreMarvel Thu 28-Nov-19 20:17:04

I have been waiting since August 13th and still no end in sight!

fastliving Fri 29-Nov-19 18:16:57

Hi, I have been trying to ring Maternity Actionline over the last week (understandability their phone lines are busy) to ask:
If you work 2 part time jobs, but satisfy the qualifying criterion for both, can you claim SMP for both employers?
In my case it would be SAP.
Thanks.

MaternityActionfreeadvice Fri 29-Nov-19 21:23:12

Dear fastliving
Sorry you've found it so hard to get through - our advice lines are very busy. Yes, you can qualify for SMP from each employer if you meet the qualifying conditions in each job. There's an information sheet on our website: maternityaction.org.uk/advice/rights-for-parents-with-more-than-one-job/
Best of luck!

TheMouldNeverBotheredMeAnyway Sat 30-Nov-19 20:04:49

I applied for maternity allowance after my baby was born, as I hadn't realised I was entitled during pregnancy. I didn't get a matb1 during pregnancy, so I sent my baby's birth certificate instead, which I read was acceptable. I had also stopped working at 6 months pregnancy, not planned but work shifts dried up and I felt more unwell and tired than I expected.

Is this correct, is my baby's birth certificate OK instead of matb1? Did I leave it too late to claim?

fastliving Sun 01-Dec-19 13:55:31

Thanks @MaternityActionfreeadvice , does this rule apply for statutory adoption pay too?
(It wasn't a criticism about your telephone lines being busy....I appreciate you've got lots of people to help!)

BICKLEGIRL Sun 01-Dec-19 16:38:18

Do you automatically get paid the higher amount MA once you've paid the ni? How long does it take after paying?

MaternityActionfreeadvice Mon 02-Dec-19 16:02:53

Dear fastliving

Yes, absolutely, I meant to confirm that the same rules apply to SAP too.

Providing you meet the qualifying conditions in each job, and give the correct notice, you can get SAP from each employer and you can start your adoption leave and pay on different dates or go back to work on different dates if you'd like to.

I hope that helps.

MaternityActionfreeadvice Mon 02-Dec-19 16:09:35

Dear BICKLEGIRL

If you are self-employed you are likely to be awarded Maternity Allowance at the lower rate of £27 pw first. Once DWP receive confirmation from HMRC that you have paid sufficient Class 2 NICs (at least 13 weeks during your 66 week test period) you will be awarded Maternity Allowance at the higher rate and this must be backdated to the start of your Maternity Allowance period.

Unfortunately I can't say for sure how long that might take but callers to our advice line usually say it takes anything from 2 to 4 weeks.

HMRC allows anyone claiming Maternity Allowance to update their contribution record so you may be able to speed up the process by contacting HMRC at the point at which you're submitting your Maternity Allowance claim.

I hope that helps.

MaternityActionfreeadvice Mon 02-Dec-19 16:20:58

Dear TheMouldNeverBotheredMeAnyway

Yes, you can claim Maternity Allowance after the birth of your baby, however, it's possible you'll lose some of your maternity pay (depending on when you claimed it) as your claim can only be backdated for up to three months.

Your Maternity Allowance period will start from the date you stopped work to have your baby or from 11 weeks before your expected week of childbirth (EWC) at the earliest. If you were no longer employed, your MA period will start from the 11th week before your EWC.

The DWP will accept the MATB1 as proof of the date your baby is due if you apply during pregnancy or the birth certificate as proof of childbirth.

Good luck!

fatisnotafeeling Mon 02-Dec-19 17:12:59

I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and self employed, up until now I haven't been earning enough to pay class 2 NIC however when I submit my tax return for 2018-2019 even if I pay NIC2 this won't cover my test period at all.

My baby is due in April and my tax return for 2019-2020 won't be due until next year. I'm not sure how I'm meant to pay NIC2 to qualify for the full maternity allowance.

Can you give me some advice please.

MyDcAreMarvel Mon 02-Dec-19 17:27:23

@fatisnotafeeling even though you have not earned enough to pay class 2 NI you can pay them voluntarily. HMRC will send you an invite to pay relevant to your test period once the dwp let them know of your MA claim.

KatoPotato Mon 02-Dec-19 23:10:46

If you are in Scotland and get certain benefits or tax credits you can get the new best start grant.

https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods/

MaternityActionfreeadvice Tue 03-Dec-19 12:42:25

Dear fatisnotafeeling

There is a special exception in the National Insurance contribution regulations that allows you to pay Class 2 NICs in advance if you are making a Maternity Allowance claim.

When you put in your Maternity Allowance (from the 15th week before your baby is due) you can contact HMRC and arrange to pay your NICs upfront.

Providing you have paid at least 13 weeks' Class 2 NICs in your 66 test period, either through your Self-Assessment or earlier through the exceptions process, you are entitled to standard rate Maternity Allowance of £148.68 pw.

I hope that goes well for you.

MaternityActionfreeadvice Tue 03-Dec-19 14:22:43

Dear MyDcAreMarvel

Sorry, to hear this, that's a 16 week delay! Have you had any update from DWP or applied for an advance?

Maternity Action

MyDcAreMarvel Wed 04-Dec-19 16:05:18

@MaternityActionfreeadvice I am at a loss of what to do. Everytime I phone them promise me 7 days more but then it’s not resolved. They told carers allowance I was in receipt of MA despite the fact they have not paid me a penny and now I have not had carers for four weeks with no MA to make up for it!
At one point they even merged my claim with another claimant and sent me their information.

fastliving Thu 05-Dec-19 02:55:04

Thanks @MaternityActionfreeadvice !

MaternityActionfreeadvice Fri 06-Dec-19 16:27:40

Dear MyDcAreMarvel

Very sorry to hear you're still waiting. Unfortunately DWP have not provided any information on how arrears of Maternity Allowance will be taken into account for women in receipt of other benefits such as Carers Allowance or Universal Credit.

Any Carers Allowance or Universal Credit is offset against Maternity Allowance pound for pound. However, in your case it appears that the DWP have stopped your Carers Allowance before you have actually been paid your Maternity Allowance. This may be because when you finally receive your arrears of Maternity Allowance it will be treated as having been paid from the start of your maternity pay period and any Carers Allowance paid during that period will now be treated as an overpayment. Alternatively, your arrears of Maternity Allowance may only be treated as having been paid in the month in which you actually receive the back payment and for each month going forward.

As we've had no information from DWP on how the arrears of Maternity Allowance will be treated for women in receipt of other benefits, if you would like to challenge the refusal to pay Carers Allowance you can ask for a formal review by asking for a mandatory reconsideration. You can find more information about asking for a review here: www.gov.uk/mandatory-reconsideration

If you don't agree with the formal decision you should be given an opportunity to appeal to an independent tribunal. You need to bear in mind that the outcome of the review is uncertain and get further advice if you are unsure.

If you want to make a complaint of maladministration for the handling of your Maternity Allowance claim and lengthy delays you can raise it with the office dealing with your claim by telephoning or writing to the complaints resolution manager. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can write to the Independent Case Examiner at P O Box 209, Bootle, L20 7WA.

Very best of luck!

newmum2019firstchild Sun 26-Jan-20 01:34:56

@MaternityActionfreeadvice

Can you please advice? I have received my MA calculations recently. I am about to apply for a mandatory reconsideration because my Maternity allowance period has been started from a date that is disadvantageous for me.

Having applied within three months (the reason is personal, and yes I know it does not matter), I wanted to start my Maternity allowance period from the day after I give the birth. But my maternity allowance was started from an earlier date and I am losing a few weeks because of this.

The question is simple: when is the latest date that I can start my maternity allowance period? I know the earliest is 11 week before due date. But when is the latest. As far as I researched it is the day after birth? am I right?

Please let me know.

Best

newmum2019firstchild Mon 27-Jan-20 13:11:24

@MaternityActionfreeadvice

Can you please advice? I have received my MA calculations recently. I am about to apply for a mandatory reconsideration because my Maternity allowance period has been started from a date that is disadvantageous for me.

Having applied within three months (the reason is personal, and yes I know it does not matter), I wanted to start my Maternity allowance period from the day after I give the birth. But my maternity allowance was started from an earlier date and I am losing a few weeks because of this.

The question is simple: when is the latest date that I can start my maternity allowance period? I know the earliest is 11 week before due date. But when is the latest. As far as I researched it is the day after birth? am I right?

Please let me know.

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