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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Summary of changes

Section 53 extends Maternity Allowance to women who earn below the LEL. The changes:

  • allow women who earn at least £30 a week, but below the LEL, to get Maternity Allowance worth 90% of their average weekly earnings;

  • allow women with several low paid jobs to add together their earnings, and get MA for the first time;

  • allow self-employed women who hold a Small Earnings Exception from paying National Insurance contributions to get Maternity Allowance of £27 a week (90% of £30);

  • remove the lower rate of MA, so that the self-employed and recently employed receive the same basic rate of benefit as employed women.

The section gives the power to set out the details (e.g. how average weekly earnings should be calculated) in regulations.

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