A Guide to Child Benefit and How to Claim it

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Life as a parent can be expensive, and there’s no escaping a lot of the costs involved. But, there is help out there, and it's important to know about all of the financial help you’re entitled to as a new parent.

If you're a parent, you're likely to be eligible for Child Benefit – a financial support offered by the government to help with the costs of raising a child. This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of Child Benefit in the UK, including who is entitled to it, how much you can receive, what happens if you're a higher earner, and how to claim the Child Benefit you’re entitled to.

Am I Entitled to Child Benefit?

One of the first questions that might come to mind when you hear of Child Benefit is whether you qualify for it. In most cases, if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16 (or under 20 if they are in approved education or training), you can claim Child Benefit. It's not means-tested (apart from the higher earner threshold), so your income or savings will not affect your eligibility.

You can claim Child Benefit if:

  • You are the child's parent
  • You are responsible for the child's upbringing
  • You are living in the UK

If you or your partner earn over £50,000, you may still be entitled to Child Benefit, but it could be subject to the High Income Child Benefit Charge. Read on to learn more about this charge and how it might impact you.

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How Much is Child Benefit?

As of the latest information available in the 2023/2024 tax year, the Child Benefit rates are as follows:

  • For your first child, you can receive £24 per week.
  • If you have more than one child, each additional child qualifies you for an extra £15.90 per week per child.

Child Benefit is typically paid every four weeks, and you can choose whether the money is paid directly into your bank account or through a building society or Post Office account.

It's important to note that Child Benefit rates may change over time, so it's a good idea to double-check the current rates on the government's official website.

Child Benefit for Higher Earners

If you or your partner earn over £50,000 per year, the rules for Child Benefit do change slightly. You are still entitled to claim Child Benefit, but the High Income Child Benefit Charge comes into play. This charge aims to recover some or all of the Child Benefit received by households with a higher income.

The High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) applies if either you or your partner have an income of over £50,000 a year.

The amount of the charge is 1% of the Child Benefit paid for every £100 of income over £50,000. In real terms, this means that if either of your incomes are over £60,000, the charge will be equivalent to the total amount of Child Benefit received, and you’ll essentially be lying the entire Child Benefit back in Income Tax.

You have two options in dealing with the HICBC:

  • Continue to claim Child Benefit as usual and pay any charge through a self-assessment tax return.
  • Opt not to receive Child Benefit if you don't want to pay the charge.

Choosing not to receive Child Benefit may seem like a straightforward way to avoid the HICBC, but it can have implications on your National Insurance credits and other benefits, such as your state pension. Therefore, it's worth considering your options carefully and seeking independent financial advice if you're unsure. 

How to Apply for Child Benefit

Applying for Child Benefit is a relatively straightforward process, but you need to go through the process as the payments aren’t automatic for anyone. You can do it either before or after your child is born, but it's advisable to do it as soon as possible to ensure you don't miss out on any payments.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to apply:

Step 1: Obtain the Claim Form

You can get a Child Benefit claim form (CH2) online to fill out, or you can download it online through the official government website and send it in to the Child Benefit Office. If you need assistance, you can also call the Child Benefit Helpline to help with the process. 

Step 2: Fill Out the Form

The claim form will ask for details about you, your child, and your partner if applicable. It will also require your National Insurance numbers, so make sure you have those handy.

Step 3: Send the Form

Mail your completed claim form to the address provided on the form. Be sure to include any necessary documents, such as your child's birth or adoption certificate.

Step 4: Wait for Confirmation

After submitting your claim, you'll receive a written confirmation from the Child Benefit Office. This letter will contain important information, including your Child Benefit reference number and the amount you're entitled to receive.

Child Benefit is usually backdated to the date your claim is received, so even if there's a delay in processing, you won't miss out on any payments.

Child Benefit is a valuable resource for parents in the UK, designed to ease the financial burden of raising children. In most cases, it's a straightforward process to claim, and it can make a meaningful difference in your family's budget.

Remember that even if you or your partner earn over £50,000, you can still claim Child Benefit, but you may be subject to the High Income Child Benefit Charge. Weigh up the pros and cons of receiving Child Benefit for your unique situation, and consult with a financial advisor if needed.

For more advice on the help you’re entitled to as a parent, head to our finance and benefits section.

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