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Childcare Benefit

Child Benefit is a state payment that is usually paid every four weeks by Direct Debit into your bank account (or similar financial institute). It can be paid weekly if you're a single parent or receiving other benefits (Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit).

Child Benefit Overview

It is not 'earnings' based, though 'higher bracket earners' may have to pay tax.

For your first child you will receive £20.50 and £13.55 for any subsequent child. Only one person can be paid Child Benefit for a child. When there is more than one person applying to claim for a child, the Child Benefit Office will help you decide who should receive the payment. Child Benefit stops when your child reaches the age of 16, or 20 if in higher education.

General Criteria

Child Benefit is applicable for children up to the age of 16 years, or up to aged 20 if in education or training. If a child is under 18 and has recently left education, but is registered with a careers service, local authority support services or other similar agency, for work/education/training, you may still be able to claim Child Benefit for them.

Usually, if you live in the UK and are responsible for a child, you can claim Child Benefit, even if you are not their parent. If caring for a child whose parent has died, you may also be entitled to Guardian's Allowance (£16.35 per week, per child).

You may be able to claim Child Benefit even if your child doesn't live with you. If the person the child does live with isn't already claiming for the child and you contribute towards their upkeep, equal to or more than the Child Benefit allowance, you may be entitled to Child Benefit.

If you are fostering a child, you may be entitled to Child Benefit. If in the process of adopting a child and the child is living with you, you may also be entitled to Child Benefit and do not need to wait for the adoption completion before applying. However, you will not normally get Child Benefit if you are receiving financial support from your local authority when fostering or adopting a child. The Childs nationality does not affect Child Benefit entitlements.

Earnings over £50,000?

Those that earn over £50,000 could be subject to the 'High Income Child Benefit charge', if claiming Child Benefit. However, you can advise the Child Benefit Office that you have elected not to receive the Child Benefit payments, though you must still complete the Child Benefit claim form. Completing the form ensures that any NI credits will go towards pensions, protect other benefit entitlements including Guardian's Allowance and also ensures that your child is automatically issued with a National Insurance number before their 16th birthday.

If you receive Child Benefit for a child who lives with another person earning over £50,000, they may be liable to the High Income Child Benefit charge, providing that you contribute at least the value of the benefit towards the child's upkeep and earn below £50,000.

Living or working abroad?

European Economic Area - EEA countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, UK).

If you are an EEA national or Swedish and reside in an EEA country or Switzerland, but work in the UK, you could qualify to receive Child Benefit. You may also qualify to receive a particular countrys' benefits. If you opt to claim UK Child Benefit, the Child Benefit Office will determine which country should pay you the money. You could even receive a financial 'top-up', if the countrys' benefit is more than the UK entitlement.

If you work in another EEA country or Switzerland and contribute to their social security scheme, you may be able to claim 'family' benefits from that country, even if you reside in the UK.

Leaving the UK?

If you are going abroad for less than 52 weeks, it is classed as a temporary situation and you can still claim Child Benefit. You must advise the Child Benefit Office if you go abroad for more than 8 weeks. You can receive Child Benefit for the first 8 weeks, extended to 12 weeks if a member of your family is receiving treatment for an illness or disability or you are abroad because a family member has died.

If you are going abroad for more than 52 weeks, it is classed as a permanent situation, but you could still receive Child Benefit if moving to another EEA country. You must advise the Child Benefit Office if you or your partner go abroad permanently.

British Forces/Crown Servant?

If you are with British Forces in the UK and from a Commonwealth country, you should be able to claim Child Benefit, providing that you are not subject to immigration control. If posted back overseas, Child Benefit usually continues, if still serving.

UK civil servants and members of the armed forces who are posted and working for the government abroad may receive Child Benefit, regardless of whether the child goes abroad or remains in the UK, providing that the UK was your main home before the posting and you were living there or that you were in the UK for 'posting' related reasons prior to the overseas posting. (ie not just visiting the UK, prior to the overseas post). You must advise the Child Benefit Office of the posting.

From another country?

If you originate from another country, in order to claim Child Benefit you will need to be physically present in the UK, have residency in the UK and be responsible for the child living with you. (Residency:- 'ordinarily resident', meaning that your main home is in the UK or have 'right to reside' in the UK).

If you are from a EEA country or Switzerland, responsible for a child that has not come to the UK with you, you may still qualify for Child Benefit.

However, if you're a national of a country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you do not qualify for Child Benefit, but this may change once your child actually arrives in the UK. If your child is staying in the UK and someone else becomes responsible for them, that person might want to claim Child Benefit.

If you are subject to immigration control, you will not normally be entitled to Child Benefit, unless you're from a country that has a social security agreement with the UK.

Children living somewhere else?

You may still be able to claim Child Benefit for up to eight weeks, if your child goes to live with someone else. The time scale will be reduced if the new 'carer' claims Child Benefit instead. However, it may be extended if they don't claim and you contribute weekly or monthly towards your child's upkeep, but contributions must equal or exceed the Child Benefit payments. If you miss one or two payments over a long period, the Child Benefit Office may treat this as if you've contributed for the whole period. You can also make your contributions in a lump sum to cover a set period.

Contributions can include birthday and Christmas presents, clothes, pocket money, food. You may also contribute towards housing for your child. If you transfer the house to your partner, it could count as a weekly amount of maintenance, if agreed with the Child Benefit Office. Or, you may contribute a regular amount to cover your share of the interest on the house where your child lives. Contributions to multiple children will be treated by the Child Benefit Office as an equal split to each child, unless asked to consider otherwise.

If someone else contributes towards your child's upkeep in addition to yourself, the Child Benefit Office will count the contributions together. This enables them to work out who should receive the Child Benefit.

If you cease contributions towards your child's upkeep, you must advise the Child Benefit Office in order for them to consider whether you should keep getting Child Benefit.

Court orders

If a court order, deed or binding agreement stipulates that you make maintenance payments which include the cost of your child's upkeep, the Child Benefit Office will treat it as a 'contribution'. Otherwise payments are treated as income of the person looking after your child and not a contribution.

Child in care or hospital?

You must advise the Child Benefit Office as soon as your child goes into care, is being looked after by a local authority or other public body. They will then determine if you can continue to be paid. Normally, you will continue to receive Child Benefit for the first eight weeks after your child is taken into care. Child Benefit payments usually stop after eight weeks.

After eight weeks, you can make another claim for Child Benefit if your child spends seven consecutive days or more at home and then returns to care. In this instance, you can claim Child Benefit for the weeks that they were at home. You are also entitled to Child Benefit as long as your child spends at least two nights in a row every week at home.

If your child is in residential accommodation, or residential school, provided by a local authority or other public body, or hospital, because of an illness or disability, you will still get Child Benefit for 12 weeks or longer if you regularly spend money on them. This includes money for clothes, books, toys travelling costs, etc. However, if your child is away for more than 84 days (12 weeks) and you stop regularly spending money on them, you must tell the Child Benefit Office.

If a child has two or more stays in hospital or residential care, with 28 days or less between each visit, add together all the days in hospital or residential care to identify how long the stay has been.

If your child is abroad temporarily for medical treatment, you're entitled to receive Child Benefit for up to 12 weeks. You can get Child Benefit after 12 weeks if your child is still getting treatment abroad. However, you must come back to the UK to still qualify and spend money on them regularly.

If your child becomes ill or disabled after leaving the UK and receiving treatment in a hospital abroad, which is delaying their return to the UK, you will carry on getting Child Benefit. You can get it for up to 12 weeks from the date they left the UK.

You must advise the Child Benefit Office if your child is in hospital or residential care for more than 12 weeks and you will not be regularly spending money on them or your child becomes ill while they are abroad and is away from the UK for more than 12 weeks

How and when to claim Child Benefit

You must complete a Child Benefit claim form and send it to the Child Benefit Office, along with your child's original birth or adoption certificate. Child Benefit claim form CH2 and notes

Child Benefit Office (GB)

Washington

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE88 1ZD

Child Benefit can be only be backdated for up to 3 months and the process can take 12 weeks or more. It is wise to complete the form as soon as your child is born or comes to live with you. You can send your claim without a birth or adoption certificate, forwarding the certificates when you have them.

You don't need the birth or adoption certificate if you've claimed Child Benefit before and are making a new claim for the same child.

Only one person can claim Child Benefit for a child. If you want someone else to claim Child Benefit, contact the Child Benefit Office to explain why you want to stop receiving payments and nominate another person. The other person will then need to complete a new claim form.

For more information, you can visit the HMRC website: Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline (opens new window)

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