Money Wellness
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calendar icon04 Jan 2024

Upgraded child benefit system makes it easier and faster for new parents to claim

The government has upgraded the child benefit system so new parents can now make a claim online for the first time since it was launched in 1977.

It says this should make the process easier and faster for millions of families.

Previously, parents had to fill in a paper form, post it and wait up to 16 weeks for their first payment.

The new online claims process takes about ten minutes, with payments being made in as little as three days.

Can I get child benefit?

You can claim child benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is under 16 (or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training). You don’t necessarily need to be the child’s biological parent, you could be their grandparent, adoptive parent, foster parent, older sibling etc. 

Only one person can claim the benefit for each child. There’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.  

How much child benefit will I get?

For your first or only child, you’ll get:

£24 a week (£1,248 a year)

For each additional child, you’ll get:

£15.90 a week (almost £827 a year)

If you or your partner earn no more than £50,000 a year, you’ll be able to keep the full amount of child benefit providing:  

  • the child lives with you 
  • you're paying at least the same weekly amount to look after them as provided in child benefit 

What if I earn over £50,000 a year?

If you or your partner have an income of over £50,000 a year, you can still claim child benefit but you may have to pay some of it back. This is known as the high-income child benefit charge. 

For every £100 you get above £50,000, you’ll have to pay back 1% of the full amount of child benefit. This means if you have an income of £55,000 a year, you’ll pay back £50% and, if your income is £60,000 or above, you’ll have to pay back the full amount 

But we’re not just talking about your salary here, we’re talking about your income - and it's your net-adjusted income not your gross income. This means you could have a salary of over £50,000 and still get to keep the full amount of child benefit. Equally, you may have to pay back some of your child benefit before your salary hits the £50,000 mark. 

Your adjusted net income includes all taxable income, such as: 

  • your salary 
  • your profits if you’re self employed 
  • any rental income  
  • some state benefits 

Certain things are then deducted to get your adjusted net income, such as: 

  • pension contributions 
  • trading losses 
  • Gift Aid donations 

So, if you earn £51,000 a year, but 5% of your pre-tax salary (£2,550) goes into your work pension scheme. £51,000 minus £2,550 is £48,450, so you’ll still get to keep your full child benefit payments. 

Use the government’s child benefit tax calculator to find out whether you’ll need to pay anything back. 

Is there any point in applying if I earn over £60,000 a year?

Maybe. Even if you opt out of getting paid (and having to repay) the benefit, by applying:

  • you’ll get national insurance (NI) credits. You usually need at least 35 years of NI credits to get the full state pension, so this could be really valuable if you’re in a couple and one of you earns less than £123 a week  
  • it’ll mean your child should get sent an NI number just before they turn 16

How do I make a child benefit claim?

You can claim child benefit the day after you’ve registered the birth of your child, or once a child comes to live with you, e.g. if they’re adopted.

Child benefit can be backdated for up to three months.

If you can’t make a claim online, you can still claim by post or by phone.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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