If you are ‘responsible’ for any children, you should be eligible to claim Child Benefit in the United Kingdom. Child Benefit payments can provide a welcome source of financial help if you have one or more children.
The Government does not limit the number of youngsters you can claim for. But, the children you have responsibility for must be under sixteen (16) or under twenty (20) if they decide to stay in approved education or training.
This section covers all the details to help you make a claim. But, it’s important to understand that:
- Two people cannot claim the payments for the same child.
- You must report changes that affect your Child Benefit to the benefits office.
- If your individual income (or that of your partner) is more than £50,000 at the tax year end date you may need to pay the High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge.
You can choose to opt out of the payments if you don’t feel they are necessary. However, there are two important reasons to fill in the CH2 claim form anyway.
Here’s how it works:
- It will help you get National Insurance credits. These may help to fill any gaps in your National Insurance record. It is the best way to ensure you qualify for sickness and unemployment benefits (including the UK State Pension).
- It will ensure your child is on the register to get their National Insurance number when they reach sixteen (16) years old.
Note: The GOV.UK website has a Child Benefit help guide in Welsh language (Cymraeg).
Child Benefit Rates 2019
The table shows the two Child Benefit rates for 2019/20. You can get the higher rate of £20.70 per week for the eldest (or the only) child that you are responsible for.
The lower rate of £13.70 per week is for each additional child. There is no maximum number of children that you can claim for.
|Number of Children You’re Responsible for||Weekly Rate||Yearly Rate|
|Eldest (or only) child||£20.70||£1,076.40|
|Two (2) children||£34.40||£1,788.80|
|Three (3) children||£48.10||£2,501.20|
|Four (4) children||£61.80||£3,213.60|
|Five (5) children||£75.50||£3,926.00|
What if you get paid too much or not enough? If this happens you must inform the department that makes the payments.
Child Benefit Office
Telephone: 0300 200 3100
Outside UK: +44 161 210 3086
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
Note: The Guardian’s Allowance is another benefit that provides financial help for people looking after children. It’s paid out for bringing up someone else’s child if one or both of the parents are no longer living.
If Families Split or Join Together
Child Benefit rules focus on the eldest (or only) child if a family splits up. Hence, the adult retaining responsibility for the eldest would get £20.70 a week.
What if two families join together? When this happens, the eldest child staying with the ‘newly’ formed family qualifies for the higher rate (£20.70 per week). In most cases, you would get the lower rate (£13.70 per week) for any other children that you are responsible for.
Here’s a good example:
You are responsible for two children, but only one of them stays with you. In this example you would get £20.70 a week for each child if you claim for both of them.
However, your ex-partner would get the £20.70 a week for the child, if they make a claim for the one that stays with them.
What happens if both of you make a claim for the same child? In this case, only one of you would get the payment.
Child Benefit Payment Dates
Other than on bank holidays, Child Benefit is almost always paid on a Monday or a Tuesday every four (4) weeks. The money can only go into one account.
You can have the money paid into most types of accounts. But, it cannot go into a Nationwide cashbuilder account (sort code 070030) unless it’s in your name (the claimant).
Check Child Benefit payment dates 2019 and find out why you might get paid early if the date falls on one of the bank holidays in the United Kingdom.
£50,000 High Income Tax Charge
The ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’ is a tax charged to individuals whose income exceeds £50,000 and (either):
- They are getting (or their partner is getting) Child Benefit.
- Another person is receiving the payments for a child living with them and they are contributing the same amount (or more) towards the upkeep of the child.
Note: You can use a free online tax calculator to work out whether the benefits you receive will mean you need to pay the tax charge for high earners.
How the Benefit Cap Works
The main purpose of the benefit cap is limiting the amount of benefit claimants get. It starts to apply for most people from the age of sixteen (16) and continues to the time when they reach State Pension age.
The effect of the benefit cap does not affect all individuals. But, when it does, it usually affects the total amount of welfare benefits that you can receive.
Child Benefit and the State Pension
Unless you are working, and even if you are, you may not be earning enough money each week to pay National Insurance contributions. Hence, claiming this type of benefit can help you qualify for National Insurance credits – providing your child is under the age of twelve (12).
When you receive National Insurance credits, they count towards, and help to protect, your State Pension. The protection you get means you can avoid developing ‘gaps’ in your National Insurance record.
Child Benefit Eligibility 2019
Two people cannot claim, or get, Child Benefit for the same child. Mostly, being responsible for a child under the age of sixteen (or 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and living in the United Kingdom means you will qualify.
So, what does being ‘responsible’ mean? As a general rule, it means you either live with them or you pay at least the same amount as the weekly CHB rates (it can also include the equivalent in kind) towards their upkeep.
The contributions usually include money (e.g. pocket money) and other things like:
- Birthday gifts
- Christmas presents
Note: You can apply for an extension online for up to twenty (20) weeks for 16 and 17-year-olds who leave education or training and register with the armed services (or a government-sponsored careers service).
You can read more in other sections about the rules for meeting the eligibility criteria for certain situations, such as:
- Child Benefit for children in hospital or care
- Child Benefit if your child lives with someone else
Adopting and Fostering Children
There is no need to wait for the completion of the adoption process to apply in the normal way. Hence, you can start your claim for CHB from the time the child you are going to adopt comes to live with you.
The Child Benefit Office can confirm whether you would get the benefits before the adoption (see details above). Providing the local council is not paying towards the child’s accommodation or maintenance you should also get it when fostering.
The nationality of the child you’re adopting does not affect your rights to benefits in relation to adoptions and fostering.
Claiming for Someone Else’s Child
Are you looking after the child of a friend or a relative under an informal arrangement? If so, you may also meet the eligibility criteria (unless the local council pays towards the child’s accommodation or maintenance).
Nonetheless, you would need to have the other person agree to your claim if they are currently claiming the payments. In cases where there is no mutual agreement, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) would decide who receives the money.
When You Would Lose Eligibility
Child Benefit payments will stop immediately if your child (any will apply):
How to Claim Child Benefit
Your claim for Child Benefit can begin straight after you register the birth (or as soon as they start living with you). Keep in mind that a new claim can take up to twelve (12) weeks to process.
It may take even longer if you recently moved to the United Kingdom. Even so, Child Benefit claims can be backdated for a period of up to three (3) months.
Making a First Time Claim
The GOV.UK website explains how to complete the CH2 form to claim for up to two (2) children. Use the CH2(CS) additional children form if you are claiming for more than two children.
Fill in the application form and send it to the Child Benefit Office address written on the form.
Claiming for an adopted child?
- Send the original adoption certificate with the form if you are adopting. There is an easy way to order a new adoption certificate through the General Register Office if you no longer have the original.
- Send in the claim form without delay. You can send the certificate at a later date once you get it.
Births Registered Outside the United Kingdom
The process changes slightly if the birth of your child was registered in Northern Ireland or outside of the United Kingdom. If so, you will need to include your child’s:
- Original birth certificate.
- Passport or travel document used to enter into the United Kingdom (for children registered abroad).
The General Register Office can issue a new birth certificate if you lost the original. The process for ordering life event certificates differs in Northern Ireland.
Adding another Child to an Existing Claim
In most cases, to add a child to an existing claim you will need to call the helpline. They can help if:
- Your child is less than six (6) months old and born in the United Kingdom.
- You live in England, Scotland, or Wales and you registered the birth in one of these countries.
You will need to give your National Insurance number or your Child Benefit number when you call.
Child Benefit Helpline
Telephone: 0300 200 3100
Welsh language: 0300 200 1900
Textphone: 0300 200 3103
Outside UK: +44 161 210 3086
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
Information on call charges
You must make a new claim by postal methods (using form CH2) if you fail to meet this criteria. Remember to include the additional children form (CH2(CS)) to make a claim for three or more children.
Managing Someone Else’s Claim
Child Benefit Help Guides and Information
Reporting a Change in Circumstances
You must report changes that affect your Child Benefit, such as changes to your:
- Family life (e.g. you get married)
- Child’s life (e.g. they leave education or training)
How to Challenge a Benefits Decision
You would need to follow the process of ‘mandatory reconsideration’ if you disagree with the outcome and want to challenge a decision about your claim for benefits.
How to Complain about Poor Treatment
Are you unhappy about the treatment you received? If so, you should contact the complaints office about any mistakes they have made, poor service you have received, or unreasonable delays.