Child Benefit was introduced in the UK in 1977, replacing Family Allowance and Child Tax Allowance. In 2009 around 7.7 million families which included 13 million children received this benefit. This article explains and details all the information you would need regarding Child Benefit including eligibility, rates, rules etc and all the forms and contact numbers which are at the end of the page.
What Is Child Benefit
Child Benefit is a payment you can claim for your child which is tax free and paid out every 4 weeks (although it's possible to get it weekly in certain circumstances). It is paid out to you at a higher rate for your eldest child and then at a set rate for your next children. Child benefit Is paid to anyone who qualifies regardless of savings or salary. Child benefit is only paid out to one person per child.
Child Benefits Eligibility
Child Benefit is paid out to you if you have children under the age of 16, and in certain circumstances 18 and 20, and live in the UK (although its possible to claim abroad too). It can be paid to you if your child is not living with you and can also be paid to you if you are responsible for a child but not the parent.
Child Benefit Ages
You may be eligible if your child is:
- Under 16 years old.
- Between 16 and 20, and in education or training that counts.
- Under 18 and left training or education, that counted for child benefit, but have registered with a careers service or “qualifying body”.
Between 16 and 20
Education must be full time which means more than 12 hours per week (not including breaks and homework) spent doing one of the following:
It must also be non-advanced which includes:
- NVQ/SVQ Levels 1, 2 or 3
- BTEC National Diploma
- National Cert and 1st Diploma
- SCE higher grade
If you feel you qualify but you do not match the requirements here, please get in touch on the numbers below as there can be more options.
Under 18 and left training or education
You must be under 18 and have left training or education that counted for Child Benefit (you were entitled to it whilst there) within the last 20 weeks and you must have registered with a careers service or one of the following qualifying bodies:
- England – Local Careers Service or Connexions
- Scotland or Wales – Local Careers Service
- Northern Ireland – Careers Service of Department of Employment and Learning or a Library or Education Board
- Ministry of Defence, e.g. army
- European equivalent to any of the above
Child Benefit when Fostering or Adopting
Child Benefit can be claimed when fostering or adopting a child.
When adopting, you should claim as soon as you know you might be adopting rather than wait as, in some circumstances, it is possible to start the claim before the process is complete. The child's nationality has no bearing on the claim.
Child Benefit can be claimed when fostering although if you already receive financial help from your Local Authority you normally wouldn't be able to claim the benefit, for more information on this please use the contact numbers at the end of the page.
Temporarily Looking after a friend or relatives child
Same as fostering, it can be paid out but not if you are already receiving financial help, towards the child's maintenance or accommodation, from you local authority.
Second to this if the child's parent is already making a claim for child benefit for that child you would not be able to unless they agreed to let you make the claim in their place.
Please see Guardian Allowance if the child has lost a parent as you may be entitled to this also.
Child Benefit If your child lives with another person or family
In this case Child benefit will stop after 8 weeks unless all the following criteria are satisfied:
- You're contributing for the upkeep of your child and it's more than the child benefit is you are receiving for that child
- The person your child is now living with is not claiming child benefit
Contributions can be:
- Pocket money
- Christmas and Birthday presents
- Arranged share of mortgage payments
- Your house
Extra rules and information:
- Someone can help you with contribution e.g. partner
- Contributions can be weekly, monthly or can be lump sum paid for the year
Claiming Child benefit for a Child in Care
Normally you can continue to receive Child Benefit for the first 8 weeks, at which point they will normally stop. Another claim can then be made if either:
- Your child spends at least 7 days in a row at home then you can claim for that time
- Your child spends more than 24 hours per week at home
Child benefits for children in hospital
Child Benefit continues for 12 weeks if you're child is in a residential care home or hospital due to being mentally or physically disabled or ill. After 12 weeks, contributions must be made to continue receiving this benefit, contributions can include:
- Travelling costs to see them
- Pocket money
- Physical items e.g. books, magazines, toys, clothes, snacks
Sometimes it's possible to claim for your child if they go into hospital or residential care but didn't live with you before, circumstances vary and it's best to get more advice either on the helpline or in the forums
It can still count if the child is only at the hospital or residential care home temporarily, as long as it's less than 28 days between stays. In this case the number of days spent at the facility is added together to get a total, this total can then be claimed for.
Child Benefit for new arrivals to the UK
If you are arriving from another country to live in the UK you can still claim child benefit as long as you are considered a resident which means you must:
- Be physically present with your child in the UK
- Be ordinarily resident (your home is in the UK)
- Have a right to reside in the UK
- Be responsible for the child who is living with you
If you're subject to Immigration control you can't claim Child Benefit unless you're country has a social security agreement which covers the UK
For rules and exceptions to Immigration control please see the Immigration Control page
Child Benefit When Working or Living Abroad
It is possible to claim if you are working or living abroard
Living in a European Country and being responsible for a child
If one of the following applies to you then you could be eligible to claim:
- If you live and are a national in either a European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and work in the UK.
- If you live in an EEA country or Switzerland and receive a benefit from he UK that is National Insurance related – e.g. the State Pension.
You may also be eligible to receive family benefits from the country you live in and in this case if it is less than the UK Child Benefit, you can receive a top up.
Going abroad and claiming Child Benefit
You can still receive Child Benefit payments if you are temporarily (less than a year) going abroad. It works out as the following:
- First 8 weeks carries on as normal.
- First 12 weeks if it's due to you or a family member being ill.
- First 12 weeks if its due to a death in the family.
How Much is Child Benefit
the amount of Child Benefit you receive depends on how many children you have as the first child is paid higher than the subsequent children. If 2 families join then only one child is eligible for the eldest child payment and if a family splits and the children go to different homes but one parent remains claiming for both then only one child is eligible for the highest rate but if one parent claims for one and the other parent claims for the other then each child is eligible for the higher “eldest” rate
Child Benefit Rates
The Child Benefit rates are now fixed for three years from 6th April 2011 and are as follows:
- Eldest Child = £20.30
- Additional Children = £13.40 per child
- Guardians Allowance = £14.75 per child
How to Claim Child benefit
Claiming Child Benefit cannot be done online or by phone, it must be done by filling out the form and posting it to the Child Benefit Office along with the required documents. You can get the form at the end of the page or by phoning the Child Benefit Helpline, they are also given out in Bounty Packs to new mothers at hospitals. Child Benefit can be backdated up to 3 months from the date the form is received, so it's recommended to send the form in as soon as you can. With the form you need to send one of the following:
- Birth Certificate
- Adoption Certificate
- Birth Certificate you get after adoption
The Form plus the certificate needs to be sent to:
Child Benefit Office (Washington)
Freepost NEA 10463
PO Box 133
Child Benefit Contact Numbers
Below are the phone numbers for the Child Benefit Helpline, they can only discuss claims with the person who is making the claim unless you are an authorised helper assigned to act on behalf. This number is an 0845 number so will normally not be included in your free minutes on your mobile or in your free calls on your landline so there is an 01 equivalent which should be included in your free minutes or calls.
- Child Benefit Helpline = 0845 302 144 (0161 210 3086)
- Child Benefit Helpline Textphone (deaf or hearing or speech impaired) = 0845 302 1474
Child Benefit Helpline Opening Hours
- 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday
- 8.00am to 4.00pm Saturday
- Closed on Sundays
- Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day
Child Benefit Forms
Below is the Child Benefit Form which needs to be filled out online and then printed off, if you need help with this please call the helpline above.