A jargon-free guide to child benefit including how to work out if you’re eligible, how much you’ll get, how to claim it and includes child benefit rates.
Updated 4 October 2021
Table of contents
- 1. What is Child Benefit?
- 2. Who is Entitled to Child Benefit?
- 3. Child Benefit Rates
- 4. When is Child Benefit Paid?
- 5. Child Benefit and your State Pension
- 6. When Do Child Benefits Stop
- 7. How to Apply for an Extension to Child Benefit
- 8. How to Claim Child Benefit
Friendly Disclaimer: Whilst I am an accountant, I’m not your accountant. The information in this article is legally correct but it is for guidance and information purposes only. Everyone’s situation is different and unique so you’ll need to use your own best judgement when applying the advice that I give to your situation. If you are unsure or have a question be sure to contact a qualified professional because mistakes can result in penalties.
1. What is Child Benefit?
Child benefit is a payment by the government to support certain people who are responsible for children up to the age of 20. The amount you can claim, if at all, depends on your and your partner’s circumstances, as well as the number of children you are responsible for.
2. Who is Entitled to Child Benefit?
Child benefit is available if you are responsible for children who are:
- aged 16 and under;
- aged between 16 and 20 and enrolled for further education or approved training;
- aged between 16 and 17 left education or training but meets the Child Benefit Extension Period Rules.
If both parents live together, Child Benefit is usually paid to the mother. If both parents do not live together, child benefit will be paid to the parent with whom the child lives.
3. Child Benefit Rates
There are two child benefit rates, with a higher amount payable for your first child and a lowered amount for any additional children. Here are the current rates:
|Weekly Amount||Annual Amount|
|Eldest or only child||£21.15||£1,099.80|
|Additional children||£14.00 (per child)||£728.00|
Say you have two children and both are eligible for child benefit, you will receive £35.15 per week (£21.15 + £14.00).
Although child benefits are not means-tested, if you or your partner earns over £50,000 you may need to pay a tax charge called the High-Income Child Benefit Tax Charge. This charge claws back child benefits paid at a rate of 1% for every £100 you earn over £50,000. That means once your income reaches £60,000 you will not receive child benefit.
4. When is Child Benefit Paid?
Child Benefit is usually paid every 4 weeks on a Monday or Tuesday. It can be paid weekly if you are a single parent. It is taken into account for the purposes of the benefit cap and jobseekers allowance.
5. Child Benefit and your State Pension
If your child is under 12 and you’re not working or do not earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions, you will qualify for national insurance credits that count towards your state pension.
That means you won’t have any gaps in your national insurance contributions. Gaps will affect the amount you can claim when the time comes to receive your state pension.
6. When Do Child Benefits Stop
Your child benefits will stop once your child leaves approved education or training. Payments stop at the end of after your child stops being eligible:
- 28 February;
- 31 May;
- 31 August;
- 30 November.
7. How to Apply for an Extension to Child Benefit
You could get a Child Benefit extension for 20 weeks if your child leaves approved education or training and either:
- registers with their local careers service, Connexions (or a similar organisation in Northern Ireland, the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein)
- signs up to join the armed forces
To qualify for an extension your child must:
- be aged between 16 or 17;
- work less than 24 hours a week;
- not get certain benefits (for example Income Support).
You can apply for the child benefit extension online, by phone on 0300 200 3100.
You must have been eligible for Child Benefit immediately before they left the approved education or training and apply for it within 3 months of them leaving.
8. How to Claim Child Benefit
It can take up to 12 weeks to process a claim for child benefit, so it is important to apply as soon as your child is born or you are made responsible for them. Claims can be backdated for up to 3 months.
8.1 Making a Claim for the First Time
If you are a new claimant for Child Benefits, then you’ll need to fill out a Child Benefit CH2 form.
8.2 Adding a Child to an Existing Claim
To add another child to your child benefit claim, you can call the helpline on 0300 200 3100 if you’re child is:
- under 6 months old
- born in the UK
- you live in England, Scotland or Wales and registered the child’s birth there
You’ll need your National Insurance number or Child Benefit number with you when you call. If you do not meet these criteria, you’ll need to make your additional claim by post using the additional children form.