There’s a lot to think about when you start a family and the rules surrounding maternity leave and child benefit are not particularly easy to follow so we’ve condensed some of the information for you. Unfortunately, paternity leave and shared parental leave is not currently available to self-employed parents so here’s how to make the most of what’s on offer.

Claiming Maternity Allowance (MA):

The first step is to get your MAT B1 form from your midwife. This won’t be given to you more than 20 weeks before the week when your baby is expected.

Secondly, have your latest accounts prepared and tax return filed at HMRC. Although the Class 2 NI isn’t due until 31st January following the tax year, it’s worth paying that portion of your tax bill early because when you apply for MA, your Class 2 NI contributions will be checked. If needed, you can contact HMRC on the national insurance enquiry line (0300 200 3500) and they will send you a letter telling you how to make early payment.

Next, you’ll need to fill in the back of your MAT B1 form and fill in form MA1:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/maternity-allowance-claim-form

It’s a whopper of a form but you’ll find not all of it is relevant to you. It then needs posting with the MAT B1 form to the address on the back page.

Hopefully you will then soon receive a text from the DWP stating “Your Maternity Allowance claim has been awarded” and a confirmatory letter.

Claiming Child Benefit

Don’t forget to claim Child Benefit after your child is born! If you or your partner earn between £50,000 and £60,000+ you may have to repay some/all of it via the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) in your/their tax return. If claiming Child Benefit, however, and your income and/or your partner’s subsequently dips, you don’t risk missing out as a claim can only be backdated by three months. In any case, do make sure you at least register so that you automatically getting qualifying years for your National Insurance record for state pension purposes, and to ensure that your child gets a NI number at 16.

You’ll need to fill in Form CH2 to claim: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-benefit-claim-form-ch2.