Child Benefit can be claimed by anyone bringing up a child or young person. It is paid for each child and there are separate rates payable for each child. Most people who are bringing up a child or young person qualify for it.

If you’re entitled to Child Benefit for a child or young person that is not your own, you may also be entitled to Guardian’s Allowance for them if both of their parents have died or in some circumstances where only one parent has died.

Who can claim Child Benefit?

You may be eligible to make a claim for Child Benefit if you’re bringing up a child or young person who is:

  • Under 16
  • Aged between 16 and 19 - up to 20 in some cases - and is in relevant education or training
  • Aged 16 or 17, has left full-time education or approved training and registered with Connexions for work, education or training
  • Aged 19 and in full-time further education, or approved training which they applied for, enrolled in or started before their 19th birthday

You do not need to be the parent of the child or young person to qualify, but you must be responsible for them. The child or young person does not need to live with you, but if they live with someone else you can only get Child Benefit if:

  • You pay money to bring up the child
  • The amount you pay is the same as, or more than the weekly rate of Child Benefit you get for them
  • The person the child lives with is not getting Child Benefit for them

Who is not eligible?

You may not be eligible for Child Benefit if the child or young person:

  • Starts to be looked after by a local authority and stops living with you
  • Is detained in secure or non-secure accommodation
  • Marries or lives with a partner
  • Receives certain other benefits (Tax Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Incapacity Benefit) in their own right

Or if:

  • You start to get a fostering allowance or money from a local authority towards the cost of a child’s accommodation and maintenance, for a child that the local authority have placed with you
  • Your entry to the UK is subject to immigration control and you do not satisfy the special conditions that allow Child Benefit to be paid
  • You don’t have the right to reside in the UK

How much are the payments?

The current rates are:

  • £20.70 per week for the eldest or only child
  • £13.70 for each additional child
  • £17.20 per week Guardian's allowance

When the young person leaves education or training and is under 18

Before your son or daughter can legally leave school, you should automatically receive a letter asking about their future plans. If you do not receive this letter, you should contact the Child Benefit Office to make an enquiry about your entitlement to Child Benefit. 

When your child is 16 and leaves school, your payments will normally continue until 31st August following their 16th birthday.

If the child or young person leaves school or relevant education or training after the 31st August following their 16th birthday, your payments will normally continue from the time they leave until the week that includes the earliest of these dates:

  • The last day of February
  • 31st May
  • 31st August
  • 30th November

Your payments will stop straightaway if the young person starts paid work of 24 hours or more a week or they start getting certain benefits in their own right. You will need to report any changes to the Child Benefit Office.

Child Benefit may be extended for up to 20 weeks if the young person leaves relevant education or training and they’re still under 18. You can apply on-line or in writing direct to the Child Benefit Office. You need to do this within three months of the date your child finishes education or training. You won’t qualify if 20 weeks has already passed since your child left education or training.

The extension will end if the young person starts paid work for 24 or more hours a week, starts training that’s not ‘relevant’ training to qualify for Child Benefit, starts to receive certain benefits in their own right, or starts advanced education.

It does not matter how many jobs or training places the young person starts or leaves - if they are within the extension period, they must register at their local Connexions Centre and make a claim for Extended Child Benefit.

Child Benefit may be payable again if the young person returns to full-time further education or approved training.

When the young person leaves education or training and is over 18

Your payments will normally continue until the week that includes the earliest of these dates:

  • The last day of February
  • 31st May
  • 31st August
  • 30th November

If the young person is entered for exams that are to be taken during the next term after they have left relevant education, Child Benefit may continue to be paid from the date of the last exam until the earliest of the above dates. If the exams are re-sits this may not apply.

If the young person reaches age 20, Child Benefit payments will be stopped straight away.

You must report any changes to your child’s circumstances to the Child Benefit Office as soon as possible. If you don’t, your Child Benefit payments may stop or you may be overpaid.

Income tax charge on Child Benefit for high earners

An income tax charge is made on taxpayers who have an adjusted net income over £50,000 in a tax year, where they or their partner is in receipt of Child Benefit for the year.  If both partners earn over £50,000, the partner with the higher income will be charged.

The charge will be applied at a rate of 1% of the full Child Benefit award for each £100 of income between £50,000-£60,000. The charge on taxpayers with incomes of £60,000 and above will be equal to the amount of Child Benefit paid.

Child Benefit claimants can choose not to receive Child Benefit if they or their partner do not wish to pay the new charge.

For further information

Visit the HM Revenue and Customs website or call the Child Benefit Helpline on Telephone 0845 302 1444 or Textphone 0845 302 1474, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 8-4pm. The Helpline is closed on Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

You can also write to:

Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE88 1AA