Children and child benefits: everything you need to know

15 June 2022 by Robin - 21 minutes of reading time


If you have children or a child, there is a variety of benefits you may be entitled to. This includes Child Benefit, free school meals, uniform grants and more. This Your Benefits article will tell you everything you need to know.

What is Child Benefit?

You may be either the parent or guardian of a child younger than 16 years old. If this is the case, you may be able to receive Child Benefit, in the form of payments made monthly. This is also a non-taxable benefit.

You may be able to claim Child Benefit for children that are 16 or 17 years old. In order for this to be true, they must be either:

  • in full-time education or training
  • unable to support themselves because of a disability

Only one of the items listed above must apply. Note that, if your child is 18 years old or over, you may not receive Child Benefit. This is the case, even if they are disabled or in full-time training or education.

What if my child is under 16 years old and disabled?

Your child may be under 16 years old and disabled. Furthermore, they may live in Scotland, or have a strong tie to the country. If this is the case, you may apply for the Scottish benefit Child Disability Payment.

Child Disability Payment has 2 different component: care and mobility. The care component has 3 different rates, and mobility component has 2 different rates.

What you may be able to receive through this benefit depends on how your child’s disability impacts their daily life. Indeed, then, the higher the rate you are able to receive, the more money you will receive weekly.

How much is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is paid on the first Tuesday of every month. You will receive money with each additional child that you have. Payments start at €140, and then increase with each additional children. You will get €140 for one child, €280 for two children, €420 for three children, and so on, up until €1,112 for 8 children.

If you have twins, you will be paid more than the typical rate for each individual child. More specifically, 1.5 times more. You may have triplets or more children born from multiple birth. For this, you will receive double what you would usually be paid for each child.

How do I claim Child Benefit?How do I claim Child Benefit?

You may claim Child Benefit after your baby is born. To do this, your baby must be born in Ireland. Then, you may register your baby’s birth no more than 3 months afterwards. To do this, a parent must go in person to a HSE Civil Registration Service. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) will then start your child’s Child Benefit claim.

If you are only claiming the benefit for one child only, you will be sent form CB1 by the Child Benefit section, if you registered your baby’s birth within 3 months. If you already claim the benefit for another child, and you registered the birth of your baby in time, your payments should be increased automatically.

You may have missed the 3 months period to register your baby. Likewise, your baby could have been born outside Ireland. In this case, you need to fill out form CB1.

If your child is 16 or 17 and eligible, you will need to send a form before their 16th birthday. More specifically, form CB2, and one month before their birthday. Additionally, it will need to be stamped by their college or school, training organization or doctor.

Can I also get Guardian’s Allowance?

You may be taking care of a child who is not your own. On top of this, you may be getting Child Benefit for this child. Then, you could get Guardian’s Allowance on top of your Child Benefit. Indeed, this is the case if the parents of the child you are taking care of are deceased.

Note that you may still apply if the child has a surviving parent. However, then, some things must be true about the situation.

The amount you would receive with Guardian’s Allowance is fixed. Additionally, it is typically paid every 4 weeks, although you can choose to receive payments weekly. Lastly, if you do already get Child Benefit, you should apply for it when you apply for Guardian’s Allowance.

What is Child Winter Heating Assistance?

Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit meant for disabled young individuals or children. Indeed, then, you could receive £214.10 for the 2022-2023 period. Indeed, you would receive this at the end of the year.

This benefit is meant to help cover heating costs. Indeed, this is why it is paid near the end of the year. However, you do not need to prove that you are using this money for heating. Indeed, it is yours to use how you see fit.

The eligible child will need to receive an eligible benefit. More specifically, they will need to have received payments during a certain period in order to be eligible. 

You need to live in Scotland in order to claim this benefit. If you live in other parts of the UK, you cannot claim Child Winter Heating Assistance.

The eligible child may live abroad. However, they could be eligible if they live in an eligible country. Indeed, visit the Child Winter Heating Assistance article in order to learn more. 

Finally, you may apply through different methods. Indeed, you may apply online or by post. Applications will be handled by Social Security Scotland. They will look at every application on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, if you disagree with a decision they took, you can choose to ask them to look over your case one more time.

What is High Income Child Benefit Charge?

This tax charge is also known as the ‘High Income Child Benefit’. You could have to pay it if your individual income is superior to £50,000. For this to be the case, one of the following must also be true for you:

  • your partner or yourself receive Child Benefit
  • another person receives Child Benefit for a child that currently lives with you, and that same person pays for the same amount of money as you for the upkeep of said child
    • the child living with you does not have to be your own

Who has to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge?

You and your partner’s income has to be over £50,000. Whoever has an income higher than the other person is responsible for paying the charge.

What does the term ‘partner’ mean? The term partner can be used for if you are not permanently separated from someone you are married to, in a civil partnership with, or living with you as if in a civil relationship.

How can I pay the tax charge?

In order to pay the tax charge, you must do a couple of steps. First, you need to do a registration for Self Assessment. Then, you need to acquire a Self Assessment tax return every year, fill it, and pay whatever is the appropriate amount for your situation.

You may register for Self Assessment online, on the Gov.UK website. You may not typically send tax returns. If this is the case, you have until 5 October of the next tax year to register. This is for the year that you need to pay the charge for.

What are free school meals?

Free school meals are a help you may be eligible for, which covers the cost of school meals. You could be eligible if you are low on income. Every child either in reception class or year 1 or 2 automatically receive free school meals.

In order to qualify for free school meals, you must receive either Universal Credit or a qualifying benefit, with certain conditions. If you earn Universal Credit, either one of the following two conditions need to be true:

  • your Universal Credit claim began before 1 April 2018
  • your net earnings per year are less than £7,400
    • this is excluding benefits

What are the other qualifying benefits for free school meals?

You may not earn Universal Credit. However, if you earn one of the following qualifying benefits, you may still be eligible:

  • Guarantee Credit
    • this is a part of pension credit
  • Child Tax Credit
    • you do not qualify for free school meals if either of the following is also true, you:
      • are also entitled to Working Tax Credit
      • earn £16,190 or more before tax in income yearly
  • Working Tax Credit run-on
    • if you are no longer eligible for Working Tax Credits, you may earn this benefit for 4 weeks
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support

How can I apply for free school meals?

You may apply for free school meals online on the Gov.UK website. There, your postcode will be asked. You will then be taken to the website of your local council, where you will be able to complete your application.

Note that you will often need to provide proof that you receive a qualifying benefit. If you know what such a document may be for your benefit, gather it before finishing your application. If you have any questions, your local council may be able to lend you a hand.

Additionally, the advisers on Your Benefits may be able to help. Indeed, they could help you with reducing your bills, for example. Our free simulator can also calculate all the aid you may be eligible for.

What is Child Tax Credit?

Child Tax Credit is (as the name suggests) a tax credit. It is meant to lighten the financial load that some low income families may be under. How much Child Tax Credit you receive depends on the number of children that you have. It will also be impacted by whether you are submitting a new claim or not.

The amount of Child Benefits that you receive will not be impacted by your Child Tax Credit. You must also earn Working Tax Credit. If you do not, you are likely not eligible for this tax credit. The date of birth of your children may also impact your application, especially for new claims.

Child Tax Credit amount for the 2021 to 2022 tax year
Child Tax Credit element Maximum amount per year
'Family element' (the basic amount) £545
'Child element' (subsequent payment for each children) £2,845
Amount for disabled children £3,435 (this amount is added to the child element)
Amount for severely disabled children £1,390 (this amount is added to the child element and disabled child element)

How will I receive Child Tax Credit?

Like most benefits and pensions, Child Tax Credits will be paid into your bank account directly. The main person responsible for the child element will receive the Child Tax Credit payments. 

You will either be paid weekly or every 4 weeks. You will receive payments from the date that you started your claim until 5 April. This date is the end of the tax year.

In order to apply for Child Tax Credit, you must indicate it in your tax credit claim. You may do so by indicating that your situation has changed.

Am I eligible for Child Tax Credit?

You must be receiving Working Tax Credit in order to receive Child Tax Credit. Additionally, you must be responsible for the children that you are claiming Child Tax Credit for.

If you are not eligible for this tax credit, there are alternatives. For example, you may apply for Universal Credit. You and your partner might be over State Pension age. In this case, you are also likely eligible for Pension Credit.

What is Scottish Child Payment?

If you live in Scotland and have children under 6 years old, you could get Scottish Child Payment. Indeed, for every eligible child, you should be able to receive £20 weekly.

If you are eligible for Scottish Child Payment, you are also likely eligible for other benefits. More specifically, you could receive Best Start Foods and Best Start Grant. Indeed, you can even apply to all 3 of these benefits at the same time.

You may be able to apply to Best Start Grant and Foods before your child is born. However, you can apply for Scottish Child Payment only once your child is born.

What are Childcare Vouchers?

Childcare Vouchers is a scheme that allows working parents to cover some childcare costs. Indeed, through this scheme, they may be able to save up to £1,000 towards childcare costs. Usually, employees buy vouchers through things like salary sacrifice scheme. 

Depending on their circumstances, parents may spend up to £243 per month or £55 weekly for Childcare Vouchers.

How can I apply for Childcare Vouchers?

Some parents are exempt from tax and National Insurance. If this is the case for you, you are most likely already receiving Childcare Vouchers. However, this may not be the case. If so, you must have a valid registration or approval certification before making your claim. 

This scheme was closed to new applicants on 4 October 2018. You may not apply to this scheme for the first time. However, this is because the scheme has been replaced by Tax-Free Childcare

Will I continue to receive Childcare Vouchers if I already do?Will I continue to receive Childcare Vouchers if I already do?

You may not earn Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as Childcare Vouchers. However, you may continue to receive Childcare Vouchers so long as the following continue to apply for your situation:

  • your child’s eligibility has not changed
  • the employer that you had when eligible has not changed
  • any application made for Tax-Free Childcare was not successful
  • you experienced a wage adjustment within a year of receiving vouchers

You may start being eligible for Tax-Free Childcare and still have Childcare Vouchers remaining. However, they do not expire. As such, any vouchers accumulated on your account can be used at a later date. This is true even while you earn Tax-Free Childcare.

If you or your partner start earning Tax-Free Childcare, you will not be eligible for Childcare Vouchers any more. 

What is the school uniform grant?

Some pupils are eligible to receive a grant that help cover the cost of the school uniform. This is true both for post-primary and primary pupils. In order to receive such a kind of grant, you may try to claim the Clothing Allowance Scheme.

Different schools have different policies when it comes to uniforms. The governor is in charge of the uniform policy, while the principal makes sure that the uniform-wearing rules are enforced. The uniforms that a school uses must be available for purchase. In other words, it must be able to be bought from a variety of internet suppliers, retail outlets and other shops. It cannot only be supplied by one supplier.

Am I eligible for a school uniform grant?

If you are eligible for free school meals, you are likely also eligible for uniform grants. This is because the qualifications for both benefits are similar. If you can get one, you may get the other.

Your children may be going to a nursery school, nursery unit, or reception class. In this case, they are not eligible to receive any kind of uniform grants. 

You may want to apply for a uniform grant. To do so, you must first register to the Education Authority. You may do so online, on the Education Authority website.

How much can I get with the Clothing Allowance Scheme?

School pupils may only receive a single clothing allowance per school year. There are different amounts that your children or pupils may earn, depending on their class and their circumstances. Here are the different amounts that they can receive:

  • £35.75 for pupils in primary school
  • £51 for pupils under 15 years old in post-primary or special school
  • £56 for pupils over 15 years old in post-primary or special school
  • £22 for a physical education kit of pupils in post-primary or special school

What is Child Maintenance?

Child Maintenance consists of a system that allows parents to manage payments that go towards the living cost of a child or children. If parents are able to make private arrangements to manage this, you will likely not use this service. It is meant to help seperated parents who were not able to do so.

Am I and are my child or children eligible for the Child Maintenance Service?

In order to receive Child Maintenance, parents must be either divorced or seperated. The child or children also need to be a certain age. Usually, they must be under 16 years old. However, they can be under 20 years old, if they are currently in an A-level full time education or lower.

How is Child Maintenance calculated?

There are 6 steps involved in calculating how much Child Maitenance needs to be paid. First, your income is calculated. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will communicate information about the paying parent’s yearly gross income. Benefits are counted in this calculation, excluding student grants, loans and tax credit.

Second, things that may impact this income will be counted. Then, the yearly amount is divided into a weekly amount. Third, this weekly gross income will be applied to a rate. This rate can go anywhere from £0 to £61 of Child Maintenance weekly.

Fourth, additional children under the care of the parent(s) will be counted. Fifth, the total weekly amount weekly amount will be calculated, using all previous information. Lastely, shared care will be determined. In other words, when the child stays overnight with the paying parent will be determined. 

What is Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) is a benefit in the process of being replaced by Bereavement Support Payment. It is a benefit paid weekly to those who experienced the death of a spouse or civil partner, if such a death occured prior to 6 April 2017, and the cause of death was just recently confirmed

Am I eligible for Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

You may be eligible for this benefit. However, certain conditions need to apply. Indeed, you must be all of the following:

  • under State Pension age
  • your late wife, civil partner or husband either
    • made National Insurance contributions
    • died because of an industrial disease or accident.
  • entitled to Child Benefit
    • you must receive it for at least one child, and your late wife, husband or civil partner must have also been their parent

Other circumstances may apply for your situation. For example, you may have been pregnant on the date of your husband’s death. Moreover, your pregnancy might have occured at the time following fertility treatment after the death of your wife or civil partner. If this is the case, you may still apply for Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

What will I receive with Widowed Parent’s Allowance?

Your late spouse or civil partner’s contributions to National Insurance dictate how much money you will receive. The maximum amount of money you can get weekly that Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) allow for is £122.55.

You kate spouse or civil partner may have died as a result of a industrial disease or accident. If this is the case, they do not need to have made National Insurance contributions in order for you to receive Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

You may reach State Pension age, or your eligibility for Child Benefits might stop. If this is the case, you will continue to receive Widowed Parent’s Allowance if you were already getting it.

What is surrogacy?

You may want to have children, but are unable to do so. Then, you could be able to give birth to a child via surrogacy. Indeed, there are 2 different methods for using surrogacy. There is the traditional and host methods. 

Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable by UK law. Furthermore, if you are the sperm or egg donor, you have some rights at birth. However, if you are not, you likely will need to become the child’s legal parents. 

You may either become the legal parents of the child through a parental order or through an adoption order. In fact, you can get a parental order if you are related to the child. This is the case if you are the sperm or egg donor. However, this may not be the case for you or your partner. Then, you will need to adopt the child.

Note that, as a sperm or egg donor, you also retain some rights. However, this is also true for the surrogate mother. For example, there is nothing forcing a surrogate mother to give up their legal rights towards the child after the birth. As such, make sure that you agree to the conditions of the surrogate birth with the birth mother before going through with the procedure.

Lastly, note that at the time of birth, the surrogate mother will be the legal parent of the child. Indeed, this is the same for the partner of the surrogate, unless they say otherwise. Then, you may only obtain parental rights through a parental or adoption order. 

Can I adopt a child?

You may choose to adopt a child. In this case, you may go through an adoption agency. If you wish to adopt a child form the UK, you will typically need to have an assessment done. Indeed, this is to see if you are eligible to adopt the child that you want to adopt. 

In order to find if you are eligible, you will need to go to classes, as well as have things done like a police check. Indeed, you will likely be able to adopt a child if you have not committed a major crime.

You will also have to do things like a medical examination. Then, your adoption assessment, done by a social worker, will be sent to an independent adoption panel. Indeed, they will be the one to make a recommendation to your adoption agency.

You may want to adopt a child from abroad. In this case, you will need to have your assessment be sent to the appropriate court directly.

You will then receive a decision from the court. Then, there are different options. If your decision was positive, you will be able to be matched with a child. If the decision was negative, you will not be able to adopt. However, you can contest the decision.

Can I adopt a child from abroad?

You may adopt a child from abroad. Indeed, this is the case if you are eligible. However, there are a number of countries from which you may not adopt a child. There can be exceptions.

In order to adopt a child from abroad in the UK system, you must live in the UK. If you do not, you must have ‘habitual residence’ in the UK. Indeed, if that is the case, you will be able to apply for and settle the adoption legally both in the UK and the countries affected.

What is kinship care?

The parents of a child may not be able to care for them. Additionally, you may be a friend or family member of a child. Lastly, you may care for this child. Then, you likely are a kinship carer.

Kinship care and the associated benefits are for people who live in Scotland. Additionally, as said before, you cannot simply be a random person caring for the child. You do not have to be a family member, but you need to already have a relationship with the child. For example, you could be a family friend.

What your responsibilities are depends on a couple of things. Indeed, if you are a kinship carer, you may be able to receive certain benefitsIndeed, you may even have a number of responsibilities and rights. More specifically, this depends on the status of the child.

In fact, a child may or may not be Looked After by their local council. Furthermore, whether that is true or not may affect your rights and responsibilities.

Being a kinship carer, you would be eligible for certain benefits. Indeed, you may find a more thorough list in the article linked above. However, you could also not be eligible for a number of others. Indeed, this is likely the case for the child element of Universal Credit, for example.

Are kinship care and adoption the same thing?

Note that kinship care and adoption are two entirely different things. Indeed, you may choose to adopt a child. However, the responsibilities that you would then have are not at all the same as the responsibilities that a kinship carer would have.

Furthermore, there is an entire process you have to go through in order to adopt a child. Then, you are named as that child’s parent. For kinship care, you are only caring for a child. Indeed, you are not considered to be the parent of the child.

However, note that many of the benefits that you would be eligible for with kinship care, you would be eligible for if you chose to adopt a child as well.

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

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