Self-employed adopters face unequal treatment if they want to start a family, report finds

Published: 17.02.16

Adoption UK’s chief executive Hugh Thornbery, CBE welcomes a government review recommending that maternity and adoption benefits for the self-employed should be brought in line with equivalent statutory pay for the employed.
Self-employed adopters face unequal treatment if they want to start a family, report finds

Self-employed people are not currently entitled to maternity or adoption pay, while state maternity benefits for the self-employed are currently at lower rates. However, there is no equivalent benefit for self-employed adopters.

The independent review, led by leading entrepreneur Julie Deane, OBE recommends that self-employed adopters should have a statutory entitlement to a minimum level of income if they are unable to work because they are adopting a child. And the level of support provided to self-employed adopters should mirror the level of support provided to self-employed birth parents (i.e. there should be an equivalent to Maternity Allowance for adopters).

It also recommends that the Government should introduce a new ‘Adoption Allowance’ for self-employed adopters.

Mr Thornbery said: “Local authorities do currently have the ability to make adoption allowance payments but it’s discretional and highly variable. If you’re a birth parent and self employed you get maternity allowance. We are also saying the same should apply to adoptive parents.”

In the report, Deane writes: “In line with Statutory Adoption Pay, I recommend that this should also be enhanced to 90% of earnings in the first 6 weeks - bringing ‘Adoption Allowance’ in line with Statutory Adoption Pay and my recommendations for Maternity Allowance. The remaining 33 weeks of ‘Adoption Allowance’ should be paid at the lower of the statutory flat rate or 90% of earnings (in the case of low earners).”

Mr Thornbery welcomes the recommendations of the report as Adoption UK has also been calling on the government to look at the parity of access to benefits for adoptive families for some time.

“There’s a real anomaly here and we are not sure why,” Mr Thornbery said. “Adopters come from all walks of life and we wouldn’t want this inequity to be a financial barrier which discourages others to come forward as potential adopters. We would like to see the report’s recommendations implemented which will help to rectify an unfair situation.”

Mr Thornbery was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours about adoption pay in April last year. The broadcast also included an interview with one of our members who as a self-employed adopter will not be entitled to the same financial support as self-employed birth mothers via Maternity Allowance. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

More than 15% of the UK workforce is now self employed, an increase of half a million in 2010 to 4.6 million today, according to the Office of National Statistics.