Part of the welfare system administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Maternity Allowance was introduced with the aim of providing financial relief to expectant mothers who are otherwise unable to claim Statutory Maternity Allowance.
Although primarily claimed by those who have recently been made unemployed or are classed as being self-employed, Maternity Allowance is also available for workers who are exempt from earning payment through their employer due to the terms of their contract.
A typical claim will pay either £136.78 per week or 90% of a typical week’s earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks – but for those that are currently unemployed but are still eligible to claim, this drops to £27 per week for 14 weeks. Any claim for Maternity Allowance is automatically cancelled if the claimant returns to work, and the DWP is always keen to point out that any claim can affect any benefits payments currently being received.
Although the government have restricted many benefits as part of their ongoing austerity measures, Maternity Allowance is believed to be safe from these changes. This is due in part to the amount saved through cuts to the minimal expenditures spent on the benefit would be far outweighed by damage done through public perception from outrage at changes to what many see as a vital welfare scheme.