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Chapter 8: Child benefit
This chapter covers:
1. What is child benefit (here)
2. Who is eligible (here)
3. Amount of benefit (here)
4. Claiming child benefit (here)
5. Challenging a decision (here)
6. Other benefits and tax credits (here)
Basic facts
– Child benefit is paid to people who are responsible for a child or a ‘qualifying young person’.
– Both full-time and part-time students can claim child benefit.
– If you are under 20, someone else may be able to claim child benefit for you if you are studying.
– Child benefit is not means tested.
1. What is child benefit
Child benefit is paid to people who are responsible for a child or ‘qualifying young person’. You do not have to have paid national insurance contributions to qualify for child benefit. It is not means tested, so the amount you get is not affected by your student loan, grant or other income. If you earn over £50,000 and you or your partner get child benefit, you may have extra income tax to pay (known as the ‘high-income child benefit charge’).
2. Who is eligible
You qualify for child benefit if:1ss141-47 SSCBA 1992
you are responsible for a child or ‘qualifying young person’ – ie:
s/he lives with you; or
you contribute to the cost of supporting her/him at a rate of at least the amount of child benefit for her/him; and
you have priority over other potential claimants. Only one person can get child benefit for a particular child. There is an order of priority for who receives it where two or more people would otherwise be entitled; and
you are ‘present and ordinarily resident’ in Britain, not a ‘person subject to immigration control’ and have a ‘right to reside’. These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
You do not have to be the child’s parent to claim child benefit for her/him.
Being a student, whether full or part time, does not affect your entitlement to child benefit.
If you are a ‘qualifying young person’ (see here), your parent or someone else who is responsible for you may be able to claim child benefit. You cannot, however, claim child benefit for yourself.
If a qualifying young person gets universal credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, working tax credit or child tax credit in her/his own right, any child benefit paid for the young person stops.
If a young person lives with a partner, or is married or in a civil partnership, you can get child benefit for her/him if s/he lives with you or you still contribute to her/his support, but only if her/his partner is in ‘relevant education’ (see here) or approved training. The young person’s partner cannot be the claimant.
In some circumstances, special rules apply – eg, if your child is being looked after by a local authority or is in prison or a young offenders’ institution.
 
1     ss141-47 SSCBA 1992 »
Who counts as a child
Anyone aged under 16 counts as a ‘child’ for child benefit purposes, whether or not s/he goes to school. Provided you meet the other qualifying conditions, child benefit can be paid for her/him.1s142(1) SSCBA 1992; reg 4 CB Regs Child benefit can also be paid for a child after s/he reaches 16 until at least 31 August after her/his 16th birthday, and then for as long as s/he continues to count as a ‘qualifying young person’.
 
1     s142(1) SSCBA 1992; reg 4 CB Regs »
Who counts as a qualifying young person
A ‘qualifying young person’ is someone who:1s142(2) SSCBA 1992; regs 2-8 CB Regs
is aged 16 and has left full-time non-advanced education (see below) or training. This only applies up to 31 August after her/his 16th birthday (but see below); or
is aged 16 or 17, has left education or training and satisfies the extension period rule (see here); or
is aged 16 or over but under 20 and is on a course of full-time non-advanced education (see below) not provided as a result of her/his employment, or approved training not provided under a contract of employment – ie, Traineeships or Foundation Apprenticeships in Wales, or a United Youth pilot (if started before 1 June 2017), PEACE IV Children and Young People or Training for Success programmes in Northern Ireland. Note: there is currently no ‘approved training’ in England, so check whether your course counts as ‘full-time non-advanced education’ (see below).2Reg 1(3) CB Regs The young person must have started the course or training before reaching 19, or have been accepted or enrolled on the course to undertake it before that age; or
is aged 16 or over but under 20 and has finished a course of full-time non-advanced education not provided as a result of her/his employment, or approved training not provided under a contract of employment, but is accepted or enrolled on another such course. Note: if the course s/he has finished is an approved training course, this only applies if the following course is also approved training. Although someone must have started, or been accepted or enrolled on, the training or education when s/he was under 19 to be a qualifying young person once the course begins, the rules do not specify this for the gap between courses.3Reg 3 CB Regs If the young person was accepted or enrolled after reaching age 19, you can argue that s/he is a qualifying young person from the end of the course until the next course begins; or
is aged 16 or over but under 20 and is receiving ‘appropriate full-time education’ in England, which s/he started, or was enrolled or accepted on, before reaching 19. To count as ‘appropriate’, the course must be non-advanced and suitable for the person’s age, ability and any special needs s/he has; or
is aged 16 or over but under 20 and has left full-time non-advanced education (see below) or approved training but has not passed her/his terminal date (see here).
 
Full-time non-advanced education
‘Full time’ is more than 12 hours a week of classes and supervised study during term time.
‘Non-advanced education is anything below degree, Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma level, and includes school-level courses, national vocational qualification levels 1–3, GCSEs, AS levels, A levels and traineeships in England.
If your child counts as a qualifying young person on more than one of the above grounds, s/he counts as a qualifying young person until the last day that applies.4Reg 2(2) CB Regs
If you stop being entitled to child benefit for your child because s/he no longer counts as a qualifying young person, but s/he later satisfies one of the above conditions again and so counts as a qualifying young person once more, child benefit can again become payable for her/him. Note: in some cases, you can continue to claim during such an interruption - eg, if the young person is ill or the gap is less than six months. In both cases, the interruption must be accepted as being reasonable.5Reg 6 CB Regs
Note: in the rest of this chapter, the term ‘child’ is used to mean both children under 16 and qualifying young people aged 16 or over.
 
1     s142(2) SSCBA 1992; regs 2-8 CB Regs »
2     Reg 1(3) CB Regs »
3     Reg 3 CB Regs »
4     Reg 2(2) CB Regs »
5     Reg 6 CB Regs »
The extension period
If your child is 16 or 17, s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person, and so child benefit can continue to be paid for her/him during an ‘extension period’ if:1Reg 5 CB Regs
s/he has left education or training; and
s/he is registered as available for work, education or training with the Careers Service (Careers Wales in Wales); and
s/he is not in remunerative work – ie, work of 24 hours a week or more for payment or in expectation of payment; and
you were entitled to child benefit for her/him immediately before the extension period started; and
you apply in writing or by phone within three months of the date your child’s education or training finished.
In this context, ‘education’ and ‘training’ are not defined and so may mean any kind of education or training.
The extension period starts from the Monday after your child’s course of education or training ends and lasts for 20 weeks from that date. If your child reaches 18 during the extension period, unless s/he counts as a qualifying young person on another ground (see here), your child benefit for her/him ends from the first child benefit payday on or after which s/he reaches 18.2Reg 14 The Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance (Administration) Regulations 2003, No.492; reg 5(3) CB Regs
 
1     Reg 5 CB Regs »
2     Reg 14 The Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance (Administration) Regulations 2003, No.492; reg 5(3) CB Regs »
The terminal date
If your child leaves full-time non-advanced education (see here) or approved training before reaching 20, s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person until either:1Reg 7 CB Regs
the ‘terminal date’ (see below); or
her/his 20th birthday, if this falls before the terminal date.
The general rule means that unless s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person on another ground or is returning to sit an exam (see below), you stop receiving child benefit for her/him on that date.
The terminal date
Your child’s ‘terminal date’ is the first of the following dates that falls after the date her/his full-time non-advanced education or approved training finishes:
– the last day in February;
– the last day in May;
– the last day in August;
– the last day in November.
 
A child who returns to sit an external examination in connection with her/his course of relevant education is treated as still being in relevant education until the date of the last exam.2Reg 7(2) case 2.1 CB Regs
 
1     Reg 7 CB Regs »
2     Reg 7(2) case 2.1 CB Regs »
3. Amount of benefit
Weekly rate from April 2020
Eldest eligible child£21.05
Other children (each) £13.95
4. Claiming child benefit
Child benefit is administered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You claim child benefit on Form CH2, which you can get from the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100 or gov.uk/government/publications/child-benefit-claim-form-ch2.
You should make a claim within three months of becoming eligible. This is because your claim can usually only be backdated for up to three months. You do not have to show any reasons why your claim was late.
Getting paid
Child benefit is usually paid directly into your bank (or similar) account. Which account it goes into is up to you. If you do not want your benefit to go into an account that is overdrawn, give HMRC details of an alternative account if you have access to, or can open, one.
5. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your child benefit is wrong, you can ask HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to look at it again. This process is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Provided you ask within the time limit (usually one month), HMRC notifies you of the decision in a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. If you are still not happy when you get this notice, you can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. If it was not possible to ask HMRC to reconsider the decision within a month, you can ask for a late revision (within 13 months), explaining why it is late. You can also ask HMRC to look at a decision again at any time if certain grounds are met – eg, if there has been an official error.
6. Other benefits and tax credits
If you get child benefit, you count as being responsible for a child for income support (IS) and income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), and usually for housing benefit (HB). This can help you qualify for these benefits in some circumstances while you are a full-time student (see Chapters 13, 14 and 12).
Child benefit is ignored as income for IS and income-based JSA if you are getting child tax credit. However, if you have been getting IS or income-based JSA since before 6 April 2004 which includes amounts for your child(ren), child benefit is taken into account as income. Child benefit is ignored as income for universal credit, income-related employment and support allowance and HB.
Child benefit is taken into account when calculating whether the benefit cap applies (see here and here).

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