Child Benefit is a form of government welfare that can help you with the costs of raising children. You are eligible to make a claim for every child aged under 16, though they can be older in many circumstances. If you earn over a certain threshold, you will have to pay some or all of it back, though there may still be advantages to making a claim, which we will explore later.
Child Benefit is paid for every child you have and claim for, but your eldest child is eligible for more money than the subsequent children. The Child Benefit rates are set as weekly, though they are usually paid every four weeks unless you request otherwise.
So when does Child Benefit stop? How much is Child Benefit? And under what circumstances can you continue to claim it?
Read on as we find answers to these questions and more.
Child Benefit payments stop on the 31st of August on or after your child's 16th birthday if they have left their education or training programs. If your child continues their education or training, you can continue to receive Child Benefit until they turn 19, provided they remain a qualifying young person.
During your child's final year of school, you will receive a letter asking to confirm their future education or training plans to see if you will still be eligible to claim Child Benefit. You must update any changes to their plans or life circumstances by contacting the Child Benefit Office. We will explore how to do this in detail later.
Can I apply for an extension?
Once your child has left their approved education or training course, your Child Benefit payments will end on whichever date comes first out of the final day of February, 31 May, 31 August, or 30 November.
However, you can qualify for a 20-week extension if your child has left their education or training and has either:
- registered with a local careers service
- signed up to the armed forces
To qualify, you must have been eligible for Child Benefit right before your child left their education or training, and you must also apply within three months of them leaving. Your child must also fulfill the following requirements:
- be 16 or 17
- work less than 24 hours a week
- not be in receipt of benefits
You either apply for the extension online or by contacting HMRC.
How much is Child Benefit?
There are currently two rates of Child Benefit:
- For the eldest child, you will receive £21.80 per week
- For every other child, you will receive £14.45 per child per week.
If you have been over or underpaid, you need to contact the Child Benefit Office and inform them of the mistake.
You will normally receive Child Benefit every four weeks, but you can opt to have the money paid weekly if you are a single parent or if you receive certain other benefits.
How many children can I claim Child Benefit for?
There is no limit on how many children you can claim Child Benefit for. You will receive £21.80 per week for your eldest and £14.45 per week for every child you have after that. This rule remains the same no matter how many children you have.
You can also make claims for children that are not your own if you are their primary caregiver.
Can I claim Child Benefit for stepchildren?
If you have a stepchild or an adopted child who is under your care, then you are eligible to claim Child Benefit provided no one else receives Child Benefit for them. If a previous carer still receives Child Benefit for a child for whom you are the primary caregiver, you need to contact the Child Benefit Office and inform them of the change.
What other benefits are available?
There are other benefits you can still claim while in receipt of Child Benefit.
For example, you can claim Universal Credit if you earn under the minimum threshold to make a claim. You are also able to claim Child Tax Credit, provided you already receive Working Tax Credit. And if you have a child with a disability, you can claim the Disability Living Allowance for children.
Child Benefit is affected by the benefit cap, so your payments may be reduced if you are in receipt of other benefits as well.
What if my child is still in full-time education or training?
If your child is over 16 and is still in full-time education or training, you are eligible to continue claiming Child Benefit provided their program is approved and they started it before the age of 19:
For an education program to be approved, it must take up more than 12 hours a week on average. Approved education programs include:
- A-levels or similar qualifications
- T levels
- Scottish Highers
- NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
- traineeships in England
Approved training courses must be unpaid and cannot be part of a job contract. Approved training courses can include:
- Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships
- Employability Fund and No One Left Behind programs
- PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success, or Skills for Life and Work.
Changes that can affect Child Benefit
There are some life and circumstance changes that can affect Child Benefit and how much you receive.
If you have two children and you and your partner split and care for one child each, you will both receive £21.80 a week for the child in your care. If you have other children who are eligible for Child Benefit, you will get £14.45 per week per child.
If two families join together to live in one household, the eldest child is eligible for the £21.80 rate per week, and any other eligible children will get the £14.45 rate.
If either you or your partner earns over £50,000 per year, you may have to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge. Your total income includes any interest you make from savings and dividends. The charge is paid as a portion of your earnings and will never be more than the amount you receive from the Child Benefit payments. If both you and your partner earn more than £50,000 per year, then whoever has the higher income must pay the charge.
If either you or your partner earns more than £60,000, you will be charged the same amount as you receive through Child Benefits and will end up with no extra money. However, if one of you isn't working and the other earns over £60,000, the out of work partner should still claim Child Benefit as it will still build up your National Insurance contributions, which count toward your state pension.
To pay the Child Benefit Charge, you need to fill in a Self Assessment tax return every tax year. You can also opt out of getting Child Benefit payments if you don't want to pay the Child Benefit Charge.
How to notify HMRC of changes
You need to tell the Child Benefit Office at HMRC about any changes in either your or your child's life. If they are not updated, you may not receive all the money you are eligible for, or you may be paid too much and have to pay some back.
You can inform HMRC in three different ways:
- Ask HMRC online
- Write to HMRC
- Call HMRC
Ask HMRC online
You can chat with HMRC's digital assistant and ask them about Child Benefit as well as inform them of any change in circumstances for you or your child that may affect your claim.
Write to HMRC
You can write to the Child Benefit Office at HMRC by sending a letter to the following address:
HM Revenue and Customs — Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1
Newcastle upon Tyne
You can call HMRC on Monday to Friday between 8 am and 6 pm, not including bank holidays. You can call HMRC on:
UK number: 0300 200 3100
Outside UK: +44 161 210 3086
If you change your address and do not report it, the Child Benefit Office will cease payments when they are unable to contact you.
As well as a change of address, you need to report any of the following changes in your child's life:
- they stay in education or training after the age of 16
- the leave education or training
- they start paid work for over 24 hours a week
- they live separately from you for either eight weeks in a row or more than eight weeks within a 16-week period
- they go abroad for over 12 weeks
- they move to or away from Northern Ireland
- they will be in hospital or care for over 12 weeks
- they die
- they change their name
- they change their gender
- they go missing
- they get married or form a civil partnership
- they start claiming other benefits
- they go to prison for more than eight weeks
You should also inform HMRC of any changes to your or your wider family's life. You must report any of the following changes:
- you change your bank account
- you change your name
- you change your address
- your marriage ends or you move away from a partner
- you start a new marriage or move in with a new partner
- one of your children's parents dies
- you go abroad for more than eight weeks
- you or your partner move abroad for more than a year
- you move to or away from Northern Ireland
- you have another child, or another child comes to live with you
- your immigration status changes
- you go to prison for more than eight weeks
Child Benefit stops on the 31st of August on or after your child turns 16, unless they continue their education or training on an approved program. You can claim Child Benefit for every child you have, though you can claim more for your eldest than any subsequent children. If you or your child goes through any of the changes we outlined above, you must inform the Child Benefit Office as soon as possible to ensure you continue to receive the correct payments.
Child Benefit provides a significant contribution to the costs of raising children. It can be a bit confusing knowing when you can and can't continue to claim it, but it is important you keep HMRC updated so you are paid the correct amount for every child in your care.