If you have a child, claiming Child Benefit can provide a big boost to your income. Since 1946, the ‘family allowance’ system has supported parents with children, from birth through to the end of their education.
Our guide tells you everything you need to know about Child Benefit. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Child Benefit?
Child Benefit is a social security payment which is paid to parents and guardians of children and teenagers. Originally introduced as the ‘family allowance’ just after World War Two, it became known as Child Benefit in 1977.
Who is eligible?
You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for one or more children under 16, or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training.
While only one person can receive benefit for a child, there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.
If your child starts paid work for 24 hours or more a week and is no longer in approved education or training, your payment will stop.
All payments are tax-free, unless you or the other parent earns more than £50,000 a year (see below).
How much is Child Benefit?
There are two rates. As of 2017 the rates are:
• Eldest or only child – £20.70 per week
• Additional children – £13.70 per week, per child
How do I claim Child Benefit?
To claim, you need to fill out a claim form CH2 and send it to the Child Benefit Office along with your child’s original birth certificate. You will receive the birth certificate back once your claim has been processed.
Payments can only be backdated three months from the date your application is received. Therefore, it’s vital that you claim immediately after your child is born so you don’t miss out on benefits you are entitled to.
What if I earn over £50,000?
If you or your partner earns over £50,000 a year, you’re to pay back some of your benefits in the form of additional Income Tax.
You pay back 1% of your family’s Child Benefit for every £100 of your income over £50,000.
If either of you earn over £60,000 a year, you’ll have to repay everything in the form of additional Income Tax.
Why should I always claim Child Benefit?
There are a number of reasons why you should always claim benefits for your child:
• You’re missing out on cash you are entitled to. At current rates you’d be missing out on more than £1,000 a year if you have one child and you’re not claiming. If you have two children you could be missing out on more than £1,750 every year.
• Claiming will help you protect your State Pension. If you’re off work looking after your child and not paying National Insurance contributions, claiming will ensure you get credits towards your State Pension.
• You could miss out on other benefits. If you don’t claim, you might also miss out on other benefits such as Guardian’s Allowance.
• It will ensure your child is registered to get a National Insurance number when they’re 16 years old.
If you don’t think you’ll be entitled to claim because either you or your partner earns over £50,000, you should still claim so you don’t miss out on National Insurance credits.
If either of you earns over £60,000, you can elect not to receive the payments and avoid the tax charge, but still get the entitlements.