Child Benefit is a tax-free benefit which is paid to people who are bringing up a child aged under 16, or a young person under 20 if they are in full-time non-advanced education or on an approved training course. You can claim Child Benefit for each child for whom you are responsible, unless you are being paid a fostering allowance for them.
You do not have to be the child’s parent, but only one person can be awarded Child Benefit for a particular child. If more than one person makes a claim, the person the child lives with will have priority.
After eight weeks, parents lose entitlement to Child Benefit for a child no longer living with them, unless they continue to contribute at least that amount to the cost of supporting the child.
If you receive Child Benefit for a child who is under 12 and you’re not working or don’t earn enough to pay national insurance contributions, you will qualify for national insurance credits that can protect your future entitlement to State Retirement Pension.
Child Benefit is currently £20.70 a week for the first child and £13.70 for each subsequent child.
You can get a Child Benefit application form by going to www.gov.uk or by phoning the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100.
You may be liable to pay a High Income Child Benefit Charge if you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000 and one of you gets Child Benefit. It may also apply if someone else receives Child Benefit for a child who lives with you. Find more information about the charge here.
Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit
Child Tax Credit is a benefit for people who are bringing up a child, or a young person aged under 20 who is in full-time non-advanced education or an approved training course.
However, in certain areas of the country you can no longer make a new claim for Child Tax Credit if you are of working age. Tax credits and certain other benefits are gradually being phased out and replaced by Universal Credit. You can find more information about Universal Credit here, including whether you meet the current eligibility conditions in your area.
For now, people over pension age will continue to claim Child Tax Credit.
You can get Child Tax Credit whether or not you are working. Payments depend on your family circumstances and your annual income, but not your savings. You can’t claim Child Tax Credit if you are receiving a fostering allowance for the child.
You can get extra Child Tax Credit for a child who is getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or is registered blind.
From April 2017 payments of Child Tax Credit will be limited to two children, so that any subsequent children born after April 2017 will not be eligible for support (although they may still receive a disability element). However, most children who are living long-term with family or friends will be exempt from this limit.
Guardian’s Allowance is a benefit paid to people who look after a child whose parents are both dead, or one parent is dead and the other parent can’t be found, or the parents were divorced and the surviving parent isn’t paying maintenance. It can also be paid where the surviving parent has been sentenced to prison for two years or more, or is detained in hospital under a court order.
Guardian’s Allowance is currently £16.55 a week per child. You can check if you can get Guardian’s Allowance, and get a claim pack by going to www.gov.uk or phoning the Guardian’s Allowance Unit on 0300 200 3101.
Disability Living Allowance
If you are looking after a disabled child, they may be entitled to Disability Living Allowance – see our page on Benefits for people with an illness or disability.