Child Benefit

Child benefit is a welfare payment available for those individuals or couples who are responsible for bringing up a child. The benefit is applicable in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland with no specific age restrictions on the person making the claim. 

Basic Eligibility Criteria

You can claim child benefit if you are responsible for a child who is..

  • Aged under 16
  • Aged under 16 or 17 but meets the HMRC extension period rules
  • Aged between 16 and 20 and has enrolled on a full time, non-advanced educational or approved training course

How much will I get?

For the eldest child who meets the qualifying criteria you will receive £20.70 per week. For each subsequent child you will receive £13.70 per week.

How do I apply?

You should apply for Child Benefit as soon as possible after your child is born (or comes to live with you). The reason for this is that by delaying an application you could potentially end up losing out financially due to the fact that claims can only be backdated for up to three months. To make an application you need to complete an CH2 form. This can either be done online or alternatively can be printed off and completed by hand.  You will also need to send off an original copy of the child’s birth certificate to the Child Benefit office. However, if you don’t have the certificate to hand, you can always complete the form and then send the certificate at a later date. If you are making a claim for additional children you will need to complete a CH2 CS form

If you have any difficulty completing the form you may find it useful to refer to the HMRC claims notes, which outline help with completing each area of the form.

If you would prefer to speak to someone about your application you can contact the Child Benefit office on 0300 200 3100 (Textphone 0300 200 3103) who will be able to provide assistance. If you are an Authorised Intermediary you can call a dedicated number on 0300 200 3102.

Lines are open weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

Or if you prefer, you can write to the Child Benefit Office at the following address.

Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE88 1AA

Why you should claim Child Benefit

Claiming child benefit will help provide financial support for those individuals or couples who are responsible for bringing up children. It will also help if you are off work and not paying NI contributions as it will ensure you get credits towards your State Pension.

Not claiming may also mean you miss the chance to receive other State benefits such as Guardian’s Allowance.

When and how will the money be paid to me?

Payments will be made every four weeks into your nominated bank account (typically on either a Monday or Tuesday). Bare in mind however that it takes upto 12 weeks to process a new application. Don’t worry however, as payments can be backdated up to three months. Your award notice will inform you of the date of your first payment.

If you are a single parent or you or your partner are in receipt of certain other benefits you will be eligible to receive your child benefit weekly.

What is the High Income Child Benefit charge?

If or your partner individually earn assessable income of  £50,000 or more then you will be obligated to pay the high income child benefit charge. The charge is 1% of you benefit claim for each £100 you earn over the £50,000 threshold. Joint incomes are not counted, it is only assessed on the income of the highest earner in the household. The amount of child benefit you receive in the first instance is not directly restricted by the charge, although either you or your partner will be liable to pay the charge if you exceed the threshold. That said, it is important to note that the charge will never exceed the total amount of your benefit claim.

Illustrative Example of High Income Benefit Charge
Kerry and David are a couple living together who have with two children aged 13 and 15. David earns £56,000 a year. They get a grand total £1,752.40 in child benefit per year. (£20.30 each week for the eldest child plus £13.40 for second child = £33.70 x 52 = £1,752.40)

As David is earning £6,000 over the £50,000 threshold he will be liable for the high income child benefit charge of £1051.20, (which is 60% of the benefit amount he receives –  £1,752.40). If he were to earn £60,000 the amount he would need to pay would equate to the total amount of child benefit he receives, so he would be financially no better off.

Some common questions on the high income benefit charge have been addressed below

Do the thresholds relate to my gross salary?

No, your “net adjusted income” is what is counted by HMRC, which means you can deduct items such as reliefs for pension contributions or charitable donations.

How do I pay the charge itself?

Payments need to be made by completing a self-assessment tax return. The onus is on the recipient to register themselves with HMRC as they are not obligated to contact individuals about paying the charge.

Can I choose not to receive my Child Benefit if I want to avoid paying the charge?

Yes, you can opt not receive any further child benefit payments if you want to avoid the inconvenience of completing a tax return, but you can of course change your mind at any time. That said, if you continue to meet the criteria you will remain eligible for child benefit which protects your right to earn National Insurance credits (which count towards your state pension entitlement).

What is the Guardian’s Allowance?

Guardian’s allowance is a benefit available to those who are responsible for a child whose parents have died (or is some cases where there is only one surviving parent).  The amount paid is £16.55 per week, which is tax-free and paid in addition to child benefit.

For more information on Guardian’s Allowance, read our dedicated page, including further information about how and when the money can be paid.

Problems, Complaints & Appeals

Why have my child benefit payments been stopped?

There are a number of reasons why your child benefit payments may have been stopped. The first thing to do is to check your payment date and speak to the bank. If there is still a problem consider the following reasons below

  • You failed to continue to meet the eligibility criteria
  • You failed to to inform the Child Benefit Office about a change of circumstance
  • Your child now is living with someone else
  • You did not reply to a letter from the Child Benefit Office
  • The cheque was sent to an old address
  • It’s a Bank Holiday – in this case the money may have already been paid
  • The Child Benefit Office made a mistake. If they did you will get a replacement payment within four working days

How do I make an appeal against a decision?

If you think they Child Benefit Office has made an incorrect assessment against a claim you should complete CH24A form. This should be done within one month of you receiving the decision relating to your application. Once your CH24A form has been received the Child Benefit Office will undertake what is known as ‘Mandatory Reconsideration” after which you will receive a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice informing you of the results of the review. If you are still unhappy at the decision the MRN will also detail how to appeal to an independent tribunal.

For further information read our dedicated page on submitting a benefit appeal.

How do I make a complaint?

If you wish to lodge a complaint against any aspect of your child benefit you can do so via this online form on the HMRC website. When submitting your complaint you will need to provide your National Insurance number, contact details, the nature of the complaint itself plus an indication of how you would like the complaint to be settled. You should get a reply within 15 days of submitting your complaint. You can of course also call or write to the Child Benefit Office.

Child Benefit Form Downloads

You can find a comprehensive list of all the relevant forms to download here including..

Child Benefit Calculator

If you would like to calculate how much Child Benefit you maybe eligible to receive then you can use the government’s own online calculator which can be completed after a few simple steps.

FAQ’s

Below are a list of the most common Frequently Asked Questions relating to child benefit.

How do I report a change of circumstance?
HMRC handle any change of circumstance relating to the claimant as well as any changes to the child. Child benefit will for most claimants cease to be paid on the 31st of August on or after your child’s 16th birthday, unless they stay in approved education or training.
What If I live abroad?
You can still claim child benefit if you move abroad as long as you are located within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. You will need to continue to pay NI contributions (or receive specific benefits including JSA, incapacity benefit, contributions-based ESA, Bereavement Allowance or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
What is an authorised intermediary and what can they do?
This can be defined as a friend or relative, voluntary organisation or translator. Their role is limited to discussing their client’s benefit claims and also liaising with the Child Benefit’s Office. However they cannot receive the benefit or receive award notices unless they are an appointee.
What is an appointee?
An appointee has the legal right to act for someone who is unable to administer their own affairs. They can legally make a claim, receive award notices as well as the actual child benefit payments themselves. There is more information on applying to become an appointee on the gov.uk website.
I have a large amount of personal savings, can I still claim?
Yes, the amount of personal savings one has is not part of the award calculation.
What if I earn between £50,000 and £60,000?
You will be obligated to pay the high income benefit charge. The amount you will repay is calculated at 1% of each £100 you earn over £50,000.
What happens if I earn over £60,000 a year?
Should you wish to claim, you will be obligated to pay your entire child benefit claim back as part of the high income child benefit charge.
What is counted as income?
HMRC will use the following information to calculate your Adjusted Net Income (ANI)

  • Taxable income from employment, which can include any company benefits or bonuses
  • Profits generated from being self-employed
  • Rental income on any second properties
  • Interest on savings
  • Dividends from company shares
  • Any pensions monies (private and State)
  • Any taxable social security benefits

However deductions can be taken in the form of….

  • Pension contributions
  • Gross value
  • Losses
  • Gift aid payments

If your ANI falls below £50,000 then you will not be liable to pay the the tax charge.

How do I repay overpayments?
Overpayments normally happen if there has been a change or circumstance which has not been reflected in the amount of benefit you are receiving. The Child Benefit Office will write to you to inform you how much has been overpaid and whether you are obligated to repay it or not. Should you have to repay an amount you will be instructed on how and when this money should be repaid.

Should you receive over payments because of a failure to disclose or because of misrepresentation, then HMRC will have the power you reclaim the money.

What if I live abroad?
If you go abroad for a short period your child benefit payments will not be affected. You can go abroad for up to 8 weeks for a holiday and 12 weeks for medical treatment or family bereavement, and still continue to receive your regular payments. This maybe extended if you visit certain countries or you work as a Crown servant.
What if I live within the European Economic Area? (EEA) or Switzerland?
So long as you pay NI in the UK you can claim for children who live with you. Alternatively if you are in receipt of certain benefits such as Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, State Pension, Bereavement Allowance (Widow’s Pension) or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
What If I am self-employed?
So long as you meet all the normal criteria, you will still be eligible to receive child benefit if you are self-employed. However you must of course declare this when completing your self assessment tax return. Moreover, if your net adjusted income is above £50,000 you will be obligated to pay the high income benefit charge.
What if I make pension contributions?
If you make contributions towards a private or employer-based pension scheme then these can be factored in and can help reduce your net adjusted income amount.  For example if you earn more than £50,000 but your annual pension contributions bring your ANI income under £50,000, you will bring yourself under the high income benefit charge threshold.
I have never made any NI contributions can I still claim?
So long as you meet all other eligibility criteria, you can still claim child benefit regardless of previous NI contributions.
What happens if a child or parent dies?
You can claim child benefit for up to 8 weeks following the death of a child. If a parent dies you may be able to claim child benefit so long as you are the main carer for the child. However, you will need to start a new claim if you are not named as the original claimant.
Can I get child benefit if they aren’t my children?
You may be able to get child benefit if you are looking after someone else’s children on an informal basis, e.g a friend or relative. Contact the child benefit office for further information. If you have been approved as an appointee you will have the legal right to receive the child benefit.
What if I am separated from my partner?
If you are separated and wish to become the new child benefit claimant your ex-partner will need to contact the child benefit office to tell them they no longer wish to receive the payment. Once this is done, you will need to make a fresh claim.
How do I opt out of child benefit payments?
There are two ways to stop child benefit payments.

(a) You can either complete this online form on the gov.uk website. You will need a Government Gateway account. Please note if you are an appointee or authorised agent you cannot use the online form.

(b) You can also contact the child benefit office directly by phone or post.

Posted in Uncategorized