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Child Benefit goes digital for first time

03 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Picture: Pixabay.

New parents can now claim Child Benefit online for the first time since it was launched 47 years ago, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced.

Since 1977, families claiming Child Benefit had to fill out a paper form, post it, and wait as long as 16 weeks for their first payment.

Now, the quick and easy claims process on GOV.UK takes about 10 minutes and payments could be made in as little as 3 days. 

Child Benefit is currently worth £24 a week – or £1,248 a year – for the oldest, or only child. The rate for each additional child is £15.90 a week – or almost £827 a year. Claims can be backdated for up to 12 weeks and families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible so they don’t miss out.

Precious time

Nigel Huddleston, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Family time is precious, especially when you have a newborn baby, so it’s great news that HMRC is enabling parents to save time on claiming their child benefit online so they can focus on what truly matters.” 

Suzanne Newton, HMRC’s Interim Director General for Transformation, said: “We know how much parents and guardians rely on Child Benefit to help with essential costs. We’ve made it far easier and quicker for families to claim this crucial help by making it digital. 

“Parents and guardians can apply online when it suits them and be paid within days, not weeks. Go to GOV.UK and search ‘Claim Child Benefit online’ and follow the simple steps to apply.” 

Natalie Smith, blogger, Frugal Mum, said: “No more paper forms for new parents – hurray! You can complete your application when it suits you online at GOV.UK and your Child Benefit can be backdated by up to 3 months – so don’t put it off.”

Parents or guardians can get Child Benefit if they are responsible for bringing up a child who is under 16, or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training. There is no limit on the number of children parents can claim for.

Claiming Child Benefit means that the parent will receive National Insurance credits which count towards their State Pension.

It also means their child will automatically receive a National Insurance number when they turn 16 years old, which they will need for key milestones including getting their first job, taking a driving test and applying for university finance.

Tips for applying online

  • parents can claim Child Benefit from the day after a child’s birth has been registered; make sure to have the birth certificate to hand when claiming.
  • create a Government Gateway account when making a claim for Child Benefit, with a passport and other proofs of ID. This can also be done in advance of a child’s birth to save time later on. A full list of the documents needed for proof of identity can be found on GOV.UK. 
  • when creating a new account, HMRC will send you an activation code via email. Once received, you can then apply for Child Benefit online. 

When ready to make the claim, applicants should have the following documents to hand: 

  • the child’s birth certificate
  • your bank details
  • your National Insurance number 
  • your partner’s National insurance number (if you have a partner) 

As well as this benefit, the UK government offers a range of other help for households. Check GOV.UK to find out more about cost of living support, including help with childcare costs.

Customers need to be aware of the risk of falling victim to scams and should never share their HMRC login details with anyone. HMRC scams advice is available on GOV.UK. 

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