HALF a million families are losing out on an average of £1,500 in child benefits because they are unaware of their entitlement.
If you live in the UK and you’re responsible for a child under 16, you will normally qualify for child benefit payments.
Parents can claim £84.60 a month for their first child, which totals more than £1,000 a year.
They can also claim £14 a week for any further children – which comes to £800 extra a year per child.
It’s paid every four weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.
But charity Turn2us estimates half a million families are missing out on the cash because they don’t know they can claim it.
These households are missing out on an average £1,540, the charity added.
Turn2Us external affairs manager Liam Evans said: "We urge any parents or guardians who are unsure of what they are entitled to, to go to the Turn2us website, do a benefit calculation, then make that claim."
Who can get child benefit?
You will normally qualify for child benefit if you live in the UK and you're responsible for a child under 16.
The support can also be claimed for a child under 20 if they stay in approved education or training.
But when two or more people share caring responsibilities for a child, it can only be claimed by one person.
To be considered responsible for a child, you will live with them or you're paying at least the same amount as child benefit rates to look after them – for example food, clothes or pocket money.
It's important to note that eligibility changes if a child goes into hospital or care and if your child starts to live with someone else.
You’ll usually get child benefit for eight weeks after your child goes to live with a friend or relative – as long as they don't make a claim.
But it can continue for longer if you make contributions to your child’s upkeep.
What help is available to parents for childcare costs?
CHILDCARE can be a costly business. Here is how you can get help.
- 30 hours free childcare – Parents of three and four-year-olds can apply for 30 hours free childcare a week.
To qualify you must work at least 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage and earn less than £100,000 a year.
- Tax credits – For children under 20, some families can get help with childcare costs.
- Tax-free childcare – Available to working families and the self-employed, for every £8 you put in the government will add an extra £2.
If both parties claim then HMRC will decide who receives the child benefit if you cannot agree.
Foster parents can also claim child benefit as long as the local council is not paying anything towards their accommodation or maintenance.
Legal guardians or parents who are adopting a child can also apply for the support as soon as the child comes to live with them.
If you leave the UK, you'll only be able to claim for a short period of time, for example on holiday or for medical treatment.
For those who move to the UK, you can claim child benefit if you have the right to reside.
If you're not sure about your eligibility you can contact the child benefit office.
How much can I get?
Parents can claim £84.60 a month in child benefit for their first child – or £21.15 a week.
They can also claim £56 for each extra child, which works out at £14 a week.
This comes as a slight increase from the previous year where parents could get £82.80 a month for their first child and £54.80 for each extra child.
For the 2021-2022 tax year, a typical family with two children can on average claim £140.60 a month.
How to claim child benefit
You can claim child benefit as soon as you’ve registered the birth of your child, or they come to live with you.
How much is child benefit worth?
THERE are two child benefit rates, one for the eldest child and another for younger children.
- You get £21.15 per week for your eldest or only child (£1099.80 a year)
- You get £14 for each of your other children (£728 per year, per child)
- You get the money for each child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training)
- If families split up, how much you'll get for each child depends on how you claim.
- If you have 2 children and one stays with you and the other stays with your ex-partner, you’ll both get £21.15 a week for each child.
- If one parent claims for all the children, you get £21.15 for the eldest and £14 for each younger child.
- Only one household can claim for each child
To claim, you need to fill in a form called CH2, which you can download on the Gov.uk website, and send it to the Child Benefit Office.
You can find the address on the form.
If your child is adopted, you also need to send their original adoption certificate with the form.
Alternatively, if you simply want to add a child to an existing claim, call the child benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100.
When you call, you'll need your National Insurance Number and the child's birth certificate.
Keep in mind it can take six to 12 weeks to process a new claim, or longer if you’re new to the UK.
Child benefit can then be backdated for up to three months.
In other news, millions of tax credit claimants have been warned to look out for potential scams that could trick them into handing over their cash to fraudsters.
Elsewhere, we've explained how much state pension will you will get at 66?
Meanwhile, savers are facing a four-year wait for much anticipated new technology that will let them view all their pension pots in one place online.
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