Common Health Questions


Am I entitled to any pregnancy benefits?

It depends on whether you qualify, as eligibility differs for each scheme.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is a weekly payment from your employer that can be paid for up to 39 weeks. The amount depends on your earnings.

To qualify for SMP you must have:

  • worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due
  • earned an average of at least £112 a week before tax

GOV.UK has more information about Statutory Maternity Pay, including a maternity pay caclulator and how to claim.

Maternity Allowance (MA)

Maternity Allowance is a weekly payment that can be claimed through Jobcentre Plus. It can be paid for up to 39 weeks. The amount depends on your earnings.

You may be eligible for Maternity Allowance if:

  • you're employed but not eligible for SMP
  • you've been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before you're due to give birth
  • you're registered as self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions or have a Small Earnings Exception certificate
  • you earned at least £30 a week on average over any 13-week period during the 66 weeks
  • you've recently stopped working

GOV.UK has more information about Maternity Allowance.

Benefit cap

It's important to remember that any money you get can affect your other benefits, due to the benefit cap from April 2013.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

People who receive some benefits may be entitled to the Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a one-off payment of £500 that helps towards the costs of providing for a new baby. You don't have to repay it.


If you already have children you won't get a grant unless you're expecting a multiple birth (for example, twins or triplets).

You can also get a grant if you're not giving birth, for example, you're adopting or becoming a surrogate parent. There is more information about what you're entitled to if you're not giving birth on GOV.UK.

Healthy Start scheme

The Healthy Start scheme currently provides eligible people with vouchers that can be spent on:

  • milk
  • plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula

Free vitamin supplements are also available through Healthy Start.

You get one voucher a week if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant and have a child under four years old, and you and your family get:

  • Income Support, or
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, or
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only*) and has an annual family income of £16,190 or less (2014/15)

You also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don't get any of the above benefits or tax credits. Find more information about your eligibility for the Healthy Start Scheme.

You can't use the vouchers to buy fresh or frozen fruit and veg with added fat, sugar, salt and flavourings, such as oven chips and seasoned stir frys.

You can read lots of information about the benefits available during pregnancy and after you've had your baby in the pregnancy and baby guide, including organisations that can give you advice and support.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:



It depends on whether you qualify as eligibility differs for each scheme.