Child benefit is a benefit that many households in the UK claim each month. But what is it and how do you claim it?
Read on to find out more.
What is child benefit?
Child benefit is a monthly government payment to anyone who is a parent or is responsible for a child. It is made to help them pay for anything they need (not just their child’s needs) and boost household budgets. It can only be paid to one person, and you don’t necessarily need to be the child’s parent to receive it, but you must be responsible for a child.
Depending on your income, you may not benefit financially from receiving child benefit payments. But it’s always worth signing up, even if you choose to opt out of receiving the payments – as the benefit is linked with National Insurance contributions and could affect your eligibility to claim state pension if you don’t.
Who is eligible for child benefit?
You can claim Child Benefit if:
- You are responsible for a child.
- The child in question is under 16 years old. Or between the ages of 16 and 20 and still in education or training.
It doesn’t matter if you work or have savings and investments.
Who can’t get child benefit?
You can’t get Child Benefit if your child:
- Is in hospital or residential care and will be there longer than 12 weeks. This is unless you can prove that you are still spending money on the child’s needs.
- Is 16 or over, has left full time education and works more than 24 hours a week.
- Has been in prison or custody during the last 8 weeks.
- Has been looked after by a local authority for the last 8 weeks.
- Is getting income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, tax credits, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance
- Is married or in a civil partnership, unless they’re either not living with their partner, or their partner is in full-time education or training
Will claiming child benefit affect my other benefits?
The amount of Child Benefit you get won’t reduce your other benefit payments unless the Benefit Cap applies. The Benefit Cap will only apply if you get Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.
How many children can you claim child benefit for?
There is no upper limit for how many children you can claim child benefit for. You will receive a reduced rate of pay for any additional child beyond your first born (see payment section).
How much is child benefit for 2022-23?
The amount of child benefit you receive isn’t based on how much you earn, but on how many children you’re responsible for. There’s a higher rate for the eldest (or only) child, and then additional lower rates for any younger children.
There is no upper limit for the number of children you can claim for.
What if I separate from my partner?
If your family separates, and your children are split between different households, the payment you receive will be based on the number of children in your care. For example, if one child goes to live with a partner and two children stay with you, you’ll receive child benefit for the two children you live with, and your partner will receive the money for the one child they look after.
How can parents claim child benefit?
You can claim Child Benefit at any time, but it’s best to do it as soon as your child is born or comes to live with you. If you’ve just had a baby, you need to register the birth before you claim. Your Child Benefit will be backdated to when the child was born – up to a maximum of 3 months – so you won’t miss out on payments.
You’ll need the following personal details and documents:
- Your and your partner’s National Insurance numbers. If you don’t have one you can apply for an NI number on GOV.UK.
- Your average annual income before tax.
- Your bank, building society or Post Office account details.
- Your child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate. If you’ve lost their certificate, you can order a copy on GOV.UK.
- Your other children’s Child Benefit numbers if you’re claiming for an additional child. These will be on your benefit letters from HMRC.
- Your child’s passport if your child was born outside the UK
Process for claiming child benefit
HMRC might contact you if they need more information about your claim.
Be aware that it could be up to 3 months until you get your first payment. But any payment will be backdated up to a maximum of 3 months.
Child Benefit will be paid into your bank account every 4 weeks.
How long can I claim child benefit for?
You can keep getting Child Benefit until the 31st of August after your child becomes 16 or until they’re 20 if they stay in education or training.
What are the tax implications if I work?
If you or your partner earn over £50,000 a year you might have to pay more tax. This is known as the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’ and is payable if:
- You or your partner get Child Benefit.
- Someone else gets Child Benefit for a child living with you and they contribute at least an equal amount towards the child’s upkeep.
It does not matter if the child living with you is not your own child. The Governments website provides a handy calculator for working out how much the charge is in each individual case.
What are the benefits for employees of claiming child benefit?
The benefits to employees of claiming child benefits are obvious, more money to spend. For low-income households the extra money can be a godsend and go a long way to helping them pay for day-to-day expenses. The fact that for most claimants there are no extra tax expenses, and their benefits are largely unaffected is the icing on the cake.
What’s the benefit for employers of their staff claiming child benefits?
For employers (especially those who run small or medium-sized businesses), child benefit payments to staff offer a few distinct advantages. These include:
- More money in their workers pockets.
- Happier and more productive staff.
- No tax implications for the majority of the workforce.
- Keeps staff in work instead of ‘dropping out’ in favour of claiming other benefits available to unemployed people.
Child benefit payments are important to many households across the UK and are a vital lifeline for low-income households.
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