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Child Benefit: Entitlement changes

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Child Benefit in the news

Over the last few years, child benefit has been in the news for many reasons and there are changes coming into play which will change who can claim and how much. If you are a new parent or expecting another child, then most of you will be able to claim child benefit for each of your children. It is designed to give every parent a little help towards the cost of bringing up a child and is a set amount of £20.30 per week for your first child and £13.40 a week for other children.

Who can claim Child Benefit?

Everyone should be able to claim child benefit if their child is under 16 or between 16 and 20 and still in full time non-advanced education or training that would qualify them as being entitled.  Full time is classed as 12 hours per week or more and would include tuition in either a school, college, private tuition or training scheme, practical work, study which is supervised or taking exams such as GCSEs, A-levels, NVQs/SQVs, BTEC diploma, Pre-U, International Baccalaureate or SCE higher grade. If your child is in ‘advanced education’ such as studying for a degree, NVQ level 4 or above, HNC, teacher training or Diploma of Higher Education, they will not be entitled to child benefit once they are over 16. If you are unsure as to what your child’s education will be classed as, feel free to contact the Child Benefits Office who can offer further advice.

If for any reason your child takes a break, leaves or defers their education, you must inform the Benefits Office as soon as possible for them to determine whether benefits can continue to be paid. This includes if they travel overseas for training or gap years, they have changed courses or just want to take a voluntary break in their education. In many cases, your child will still be entitled to child benefit for up to 6 months for reasons such as moving colleges, pregnancy, family bereavement or illness. If your child’s circumstances change for any other reason, for example they decide to start work and end their education, you must inform the benefits office right away.

Child benefit changes

High income households eligibility changes

For the most part, child benefit is a statutory payment given to all parents regardless of income, however, if you or your partner earns more than £50,000 on a single salary, then you may have to pay a High Income Child Benefit Charge. It doesn’t matter if your partner earns over £50,000 and isn’t the child’s parent, if you are living with them, then you may still be affected by the charge. If you are one of those affected, then this means that you would either have to stop claiming child benefit completely, or you could continue to claim but would need to declare the amount you’re entitled to, by completing a self assessment tax return every year. This means that you will pay additional tax on your income to offset the child benefit received. The tax increases further on earnings over £60,000. This can end up completely cancelling out any benefits of receiving child benefit so is worth calculating what you’re entitled to if you fall within these boundaries.

Get advice on your claim

Information and advice is available from the HMRC website, the Child benefits Office and the Child Benefit Helpline on 0300 200 3100 for anyone unsure of their own or their child’s situation and would like a helping hand.

If you are adopting or fostering a child or if you are the legal guardian, you should also be able to claim child benefit.

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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