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Every household with children below 16 years can claim child benefit for the expenses incurred on raising children. In case the children are in qualified education or training, people can claim the child benefit up to them reaching the age of 20. All British people are eligible for this benefit. However, individuals having an annual income above £50,000 need to pay back a certain portion of child benefit as extra income tax. The aim of this benefit is to help families in financing the upbringing of their children.
Child benefit is available at two rates. For the first or only child, you get a credit of £20.50 every week. For additional children, you get £13.55 per child. So, if you have three children, every week you will get a child benefit of £47.6 (£20.50+£13.55+£13.55).
You can claim child benefit even for an adopted child. You can start claiming these benefits as soon as the adopted child starts living with you. The adopted child can be of any nationality.
You can also claim the child benefit if you are paying for a relative or a friend's child or if you foster a child. The only condition in these circumstances is that the local council should not be contributing towards the child's living or maintenance expenses. Note that only one person can claim child benefit for one child. So if you and a friend are contributing towards one child's expenses, only one of you can claim child benefit.
The money is transferred into your bank account every four weeks.
Child benefit stops immediately once the child starts working for more than 24 hours a week. Alternatively, the benefit will stop if a child starts getting some benefits on own, for example, income support.
The amount increases by 1% every two years to keep up with increases in child-raising expenses. Going with the above example and keeping all other things as same, after two years the child benefit will go up to £48.76 every week. Of course, this is assuming that two years later all the three children will still be under the age of 16.
Child benefit works as an addition to your household income. To continue with the example above, if you're earning £15,000 per annum and have three children, the benefit will add £2,522 per annum (47.6x53 weeks) to your finances.
We recommend you to use our household budget calculator to check how child benefit impacts your household budget.
Child benefit should not be mixed up with child tax credit. Child benefit is a fixed amount irrespective of income whereas child tax credit varies by income. And as seen above, child benefit has an upper-income limit.