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Closed petition Increase statutory maternity pay in line with cost of living crisis

Review statutory maternity pay in line with inflation and cost of living

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is currently:
90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
£156.66 or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for next 33 weeks. This averages £7.5k p/a

More details

The cost of living has been increasing across the UK since early 2021 and in April 2022, inflation reached its highest recorded level, and the ONS estimates that it is now higher than at any time since around 1982, affecting the affordability of goods and services for households.

Consumer prices, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), were 9.0% higher in April 2022 than a year before

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 19 June 2023

Watch the petition 'Increase statutory maternity pay in line with cost of living crisis' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 13 June 2022

The Government has no plans to increase Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). The standard rate of SMP is reviewed annually and is generally increased in line with CPI.

Read the response in full

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to a maximum of 39 weeks. The first six weeks are paid at a weekly rate equal to 90% of the woman's average weekly earnings, with no upper limit. This is followed by up to 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate or 90% of the woman's average weekly earnings.

The standard rate of SMP is considerably higher than the level of other out of work benefits and reflects the special position of pregnant working women and new mothers.

The standard rate of SMP is reviewed annually, alongside state benefits, and is generally increased in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). From April 2022 the standard rate of SMP increased to £156.66, in line with the September 2021 CPI rate of 3.1%.

When considering calls to increase the level of SMP, this must be balanced against limited resources as well as being mindful of the burden on employers, who (with the exception of small employers i.e. those with gross National Insurance liability of £45,000 or less in a tax year) are required to cover 8% of the SMP costs. If changes to the rate of SMP outside of the annual review of uprating were to be made, payroll providers and employers would need sufficient time to amend, test and distribute any system changes needed to reflect the new rate.

Government already spends approximately £3 billion a year on maternity payments. Any changes to the rate of SMP would have to take account of economic circumstances and affordability for taxpayers and could not be made without consultation with businesses and other stakeholders.

The Government has no plans to increase the rate of SMP outside of the annual review of uprating.

More broadly, the Government recognises millions of households across the UK are struggling to make their incomes stretch to cover the rising cost of living. That is why we recently announced more than £15 billion in further support, targeted particularly on those with the greatest need. This package is in addition to the over £22 billion announced previously, meaning support for the cost of living now totalling over £37 billion this year. Almost all of the eight million lowest-income households will get at least £1,200 of one-off support in total this year to help with the cost of living, with all domestic electricity customers receiving at least £400. On top of the various cost of living payments, the Household Support Fund has been extended through next winter and offers £1.5 billion to the households most in need.

Department for Work and Pensions

Share your views on the cost of living and statutory parental pay

The MPs on the Petitions Committee have scheduled a debate on a petition about the cost of living and statutory parental pay:

Catherine McKinnell MP, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate, which will take place on Monday 19 June.

Share your views

To inform the debate, we would like to hear from you about your experiences and views on the impact of the increased cost of living on new and expectant parents.

You can share your views with us by completing this survey: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=nt3mHDeziEC-Xo277ASzSlm-gymY27BNnnr2GOLe8e5UOVM4WFlVSlBCWFdQUURYTTZNWDJWQzFHUC4u

The survey will close on Wednesday 7 June at 10am.

Your responses will be anonymous. A summary of responses will be published on the Parliament website. It will also be shared with MPs and may be referred to in the debate or within other parliamentary documents. Please don't share anything that may identify you.

Watch the debate

The debate will take place on Monday 19 June at 4.30pm.

What are petitions debates?

Petitions debates are ‘general’ debates which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

Petition debates don’t end with a vote to implement the request of a petition. This means that MPs will not vote on changing statutory parental pay at the end of the debate.

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MPs investigate the impact of the rising cost of living on women

A group of MPs called the Women and Equalities Committee are looking into the impact of the rising cost of living on women, as households continue to come under pressure from increased costs.

Read the Committee's press notice announcing this work for more information.

The Committee will consider:
- How rising food, energy, housing and other costs are affecting women compared to men and the challenges for women in different types of households
- What long-term effects the rise in the cost-of-living will have on equalities for women
- How effectively the Government's cost of living response is helping women meet the costs of essentials
- What the Government could do to ensure its cost-of-living measures respond to any inequalities women face
- What business could do to help women cope with increases in the cost of living and to manage debt

What happens next?

The Committee is going to conduct oral evidence sessions where it will hear from experts in the sector as well as representatives from the Government.

An evidence session is a hearing where MPs ask key experts, such as Ministers, academics and/or campaigners, questions on a particular topic. These experts are called "witnesses" and they help MPs to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.

The Committee will then consider all the evidence it has taken and publish a report of its findings with recommendations to the Government on any changes that might be needed.

For more information about the inquiry, including details of upcoming oral evidence sessions, visit the Committee's inquiry page.

What is the Women and Equalities Committee?

The Women and Equalities Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that conduct inquiries into issues relating to Women and the Equalities and examines the work of the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

The Women and Equalities Committee is a select committee.

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