When Does Child Benefit Stop?

Child Benefit is a vital financial support the UK government provides to parents and guardians. This payment helps families manage the financial demands of raising a child. However, this benefit does not last forever. Some specific criteria and circumstances determine when child benefit ends.

In this article, you will learn about:

When Does Child Benefit Stop?

Child Benefit ceases once your child reaches 16 years old unless they enrol in approved education or training. If they do, the benefit continues until they turn 20. The child benefit office needs evidence that your child is enrolled in full-time, non-advanced education or approved training to continue the benefit. This is a crucial piece of information for parents receiving child benefit payments.

Sometimes, even if your child leaves approved education or training after their 16th birthday but returns to it before their 19th birthday, the Child Benefit can also restart. For this to happen, the child must enrol in the course within three months of leaving the previous one.

Factors Influencing Child Benefit Termination

Several factors can influence when child benefit stops. The most common is your child’s age. However, other factors include changes in your child’s life, such as leaving approved education or training, marrying, or starting paid work for 24 hours or more a week. Changes in your situation, like if you’re subject to immigration control, can also affect your child benefit.

Taxable income is another factor. If you or your partner’s income exceeds £50,000, you may have to pay the High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge. This means that if your income is between £50,000 and £60,000, the tax charge is less than the child benefit, but you could opt not to get Child Benefit payments to avoid the tax charge.

The Impact of Child’s Education on Benefits

The status of your child’s education significantly impacts your child benefit. If your child is under 16, you can claim Child Benefit. Once they turn 16, you can continue to claim as long as they stay in approved education or training. If they leave education or training, your Child Benefit will stop at the end of February, 31 May, 31 August or 30 November (whichever comes first).

The type of education is also essential. It must be non-advanced education, such as A levels or equivalent, or approved training like Foundation Apprenticeships or traineeships in Wales. If your child starts advanced education, like a university degree, or paid work for 24 hours or more a week, your Child Benefit will stop.

Steps to Take After Child Benefit Ends

When your child benefit stops, there are several steps you should take. First, you should contact the Child Benefit Office. Inform them about the changes to stop the payments. Remember that you need to report changes to your circumstances to avoid overpayment.

Next, review your finances. With the cessation of child benefit, you might want to reassess your budget. If you need extra help, consider checking if you’re eligible for other forms of financial support like Tax Credits, Universal Credit, or Council Tax Reduction.

Lastly, remember to keep all your documents safe. You might need them later for reference, especially if you’re dealing with the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They might need details about your child benefit claim, especially if you’re completing a self-assessment tax return.

In the context of family financial planning, it’s essential to consider the implications of when child benefit stops. This article will outline some of the advantages and drawbacks associated with the cessation of child benefit payments. By understanding these, parents and guardians can better prepare for the transition and make informed decisions about their financial future.

Advantages of Child Benefit Cessation

When child benefit payments end, it can signify a new stage in a family’s financial planning. Let’s explore some of the positive aspects of this change.

1) Encourages Financial Independence for Young People

  • When child benefit stops as a young person becomes older, it often coincides with them starting to earn their income. This can encourage financial independence and responsibility.
  • For many, this transition is a step towards adulthood, and managing their own money can be an empowering experience that teaches valuable life skills.

2) Potential Increase in Net Income for Higher Earners

  • Families with a higher net income may benefit when child benefit stops, as they no longer need to pay the High-Income Child Benefit Tax Charge. This could result in a more favourable financial situation.
  • Families save time and potential accounting costs by not having to undergo the self-assessment process to pay the charge.

3) Opportunity to Review Financial Support Options

  • The end of child benefit payments can be an opportunity for parents to review other forms of financial support they may be entitled to, such as tax credits, housing benefit, or pension credits.
  • Advisors like Martin Lewis and other financial experts offer resources that help families navigate this transition and explore other benefits they may be eligible for.

4) Simplified Tax Affairs

  • Parents may find their tax affairs more straightforward without child benefit payments, especially if they previously had to deal with the tax credit office or complete a tax return due to the associated Tax Charge.
  • Simplifying tax affairs can reduce the risk of errors or underpayments, bringing peace of mind and less administrative burden.

5) Incentive to Explore Savings and Investments

  • With child benefit ending, parents might be incentivised to investigate other savings and investment opportunities for their children, such as opening a Junior ISA or contributing to a child’s pension.
  • Planning for a child’s financial future without relying on child benefit can lead to a more diversified and potentially more secure financial strategy.

Drawbacks of Child Benefit Cessation

The end of child benefit can bring challenges for families. Here are some potential disadvantages that stopping this payment can bring.

1) Immediate Reduction in Monthly Income

  • Families will experience an immediate reduction in monthly payments, which can be a significant adjustment, especially for single parents or those with lower annual incomes.
  • This loss of income may require budget re-evaluations and could impact the ability to cover essential childcare costs or other expenses related to children under age.

2) Increased Financial Pressure on Full-Time Students

  • For children who are full-time students in approved education, losing child benefit may increase financial pressure, especially if they are not eligible for student benefits or other social security support.
  • Parents may need to find additional resources to support their child’s education, which can be challenging without the extra financial help.

3) Complexity in Benefit Entitlement

  • Understanding which benefits a family is entitled to after child benefit stops can be complex. This includes determining eligibility for housing benefit, income support, or child tax credits.
  • Contacting different customer services and navigating online forms can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing.

4) Impact on National Insurance Credits

  • Parents who receive child benefit for a child under age 12 also receive National Insurance credits, which can affect their state pension eligibility. When child benefit stops, these credits also cease.
  • Losing these credits can have long-term implications on a parent’s pension entitlement, which may require them to take other actions to make up for it.

5) Complications with Child Maintenance Arrangements

  • Child benefit cessation can complicate child maintenance arrangements since it often signals a change in circumstance. This can affect both the payer and the recipient of child maintenance.
  • Parents may need to renegotiate maintenance payments or reassess their financial agreements, which can be a source of stress and require legal advice.

Tax Benefits for Larger Families

When families in the UK welcome an additional child, their financial dynamics change. The child benefit payment for an additional child is currently at a lower rate than for the first child. However, the extra funds still provide crucial support to cover the costs of raising multiple children. Families should be aware that the child element of other benefits, like tax credits, may also increase by adding a new child.

Receiving child benefit can sometimes impact your income tax. Claiming for an additional child could affect your tax credits, including the working and child tax credit. You must report the correct number of children in your household to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to ensure you receive the right amount of tax benefit and avoid any issues with over or underpayment.

In Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, child benefit is a universal payment. Parents should note that if they have recently moved to Northern Ireland and their immigration status allows them to claim benefits, they must promptly notify the child benefit office. This ensures that their child benefit payments and any associated national insurance credits, are correctly administered.

Lastly, parents must understand that child benefit payments and any additional child tax credit are paid through monthly payments directly into their bank account. Keeping your bank details updated with the child benefit office is crucial. You can update your information using the online form available through the Government Gateway, accessed from a computer or a mobile phone.

Support for Armed Forces Families

Families of the Armed Forces have unique circumstances that can affect their child benefit. When a parent serves in the Armed Forces, they might be away from home for extended periods. However, their children remain entitled to child benefit payments throughout this time. These families must communicate openly with the child benefit office to ensure their payments are not interrupted.

The maternity allowance is another benefit that can be particularly important to Armed Forces families. If a serving parent’s partner is pregnant or has recently given birth and meets the eligibility criteria, they may claim this financial support. This allowance can help compensate for income lost during maternity leave and can be claimed simultaneously as child benefit.

Families in the Armed Forces may also be entitled to additional support through the child element of Universal Credit or working tax credit. These benefits can help with the costs of raising children while one parent is serving in the military. To apply, families must complete the relevant online form and may need to provide details about their situation, such as proof of service and the number of children they have.

For Armed Forces families, understanding the full range of benefits available, including child benefit, can help provide financial stability. It is advisable to read the privacy notice on the child benefit application form or government websites to understand how personal information will be handled and to ensure awareness of one’s rights and obligations.

Full-Time Students and Benefit Eligibility

Full-time students are typically between 18 and 20 and may still be eligible for child benefit if they are in approved education. This includes courses such as A levels, NVQs and other vocational qualifications. Parents of full-time students should ensure that they provide the child benefit office with evidence of their child’s enrolment in full-time education to continue receiving payments.

If a full-time student has a child, they may be eligible for child benefit themselves. In such cases, the young parent can receive a monthly payment to assist with the costs of raising their child while they continue their studies. This support can be particularly crucial for young families trying to balance the demands of parenthood with educational commitments.

National insurance credit is another potential advantage for parents of full-time students. While receiving child benefit, they may accrue credits that can contribute towards their state pension. Parents need to claim child benefit even if their child is a full-time student, as failing to do so could mean missing out on these valuable credits.

The process of claiming child benefit for a full-time student is straightforward. Parents can complete and submit the relevant online form through the Government Gateway. Keeping on top of this paperwork is important to ensure that the family allowance continues uninterrupted as the young person transitions from child to adult responsibilities.

Child Benefit Cessation Case Study

Child Benefit Cessation Case Study

Here is a case study to help bring the topic of ‘when does child benefit stop?’ to life in a real-world context. By presenting a scenario that individuals might face, this example aims to clarify how the cessation of child benefit can affect a family. It’s a situation that many in the UK may find relatable and illustrates the steps to be taken when faced with this change.

Meet Jane, a single mother from Bristol who has been receiving child benefit payments for her daughter, Emily, who is now 19 years old. Emily has recently finished her A-levels and is taking a year out before deciding whether to attend university or start full-time employment. Jane understands that her child benefit will stop since Emily is no longer in full-time education, which has been a crucial help in managing day-to-day expenses.

To prepare for this change, Jane used Google to search for advice on ‘benefits for children’ and to understand her financial options. She found helpful resources that explained how the child benefit payment would cease and what other support might be available. Jane also discovered that she could claim additional benefits to assist with her reduced income.

As part of her preparation, Jane contacted the Child Benefit Office to inform them of Emily’s change in circumstances. This proactive step ensured that her child benefit payments were correctly stopped, avoiding the possibility of an overpayment that would need to be paid back.

This case study highlights the importance of planning for the end of child benefit payments. It also shows the value of using available resources, such as online information and advice services, to navigate financial transitions. Parents like Jane can manage the impact of these changes by staying informed and taking timely action.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

To summarise this article, we’ll highlight the key aspects concerning when child benefit stops. This will allow a clearer understanding of the necessary actions and considerations for those receiving or expecting to receive child benefit in the UK.

  • Child benefit stops when a child reaches 16 unless they are in approved education or training, which can continue until they turn 20.
  • The High-Income Child Benefit Tax Charge may impact families with higher incomes; planning is essential to manage potential financial changes.
  • Changes in circumstances, such as a child leaving education or training, must be reported to the Child Benefit Office promptly to avoid overpayments.
  • The cessation of child benefit prompts families to review their financial situation and explore other forms of support like tax credits or Universal Credit.
  • For Armed Forces families and those with full-time students, staying informed about benefit continuation and eligibility can provide financial stability during transitions.

Parents and guardians need to be proactive in managing their child benefit entitlement. Staying informed and up-to-date with the latest regulations and changes can help prevent any unexpected financial difficulties. It’s also advisable to keep abreast of other financial support options available, as they can provide additional assistance when child benefit payments cease.

This article has covered the key points about child benefit cessation in the UK, offering insights into what factors lead to the end of payments and what steps families should take in response. By understanding these guidelines, parents and guardians can ensure they are making informed decisions for their family’s financial well-being. It’s important to remember that while the cessation of child benefit is a significant event, it can also be an opportunity to reassess financial goals and explore new avenues of support.


1) How Does Having an Additional Child Affect Child Benefit Payments?

When you have an additional child, your child benefit payments increase. For each additional child, you receive a set amount of money, contributing to your family’s overall financial support. This is separate from the payment for your first or eldest child, and it’s crucial to update the Child Benefit Office with the addition to ensure your payments are accurate.

It’s important to note that the child benefit payment for an additional child does not affect the amount you receive for your first child. Each child’s benefit is calculated individually, and the total amount you receive is the sum of these individual payments. Parents should regularly check their entitlements, especially after a change in family size, to ensure they receive the correct benefits.

2) What Happens to Child Benefit If I Start Receiving Maternity Allowance?

If you start receiving maternity allowance, this will not impact your child benefit payments. Maternity allowance is designed to support you financially during maternity leave and is separate from child benefit. You should continue to receive child benefit payments as usual for any eligible children you have.

Moreover, it’s essential to inform the Child Benefit Office about the birth of your new baby to start receiving child benefit for them. The maternity allowance is specifically for the period you are on maternity leave and is not meant to replace your child benefit payments for your other children.

3) Can I Still Claim Child Benefit If My Child Is a Full-Time Student?

Yes, you can continue to claim child benefit if your child is under 20 and remains in full-time education. This includes courses such as A-levels or equivalent vocational qualifications. It’s essential to inform the Child Benefit Office about your child’s educational status to ensure continuous payment.

Parents should provide evidence of their child’s enrolment in full-time education, which could be an acceptance letter or a current student ID. This ensures that the child continues to be eligible for child benefit and that payments are not mistakenly stopped.

4) What Should I Do If My Child Joins the Armed Forces?

If your child joins the Armed Forces, this is considered employment, and you will no longer be eligible for child benefit for them. Once your child enters the Armed Forces, they are regarded as financially independent, so child benefit payments cease.

You must notify the Child Benefit Office when your child starts their career in the Armed Forces to update your eligibility status. Doing so helps avoid potential overpayments, which must be repaid to HM Revenue and Customs.

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Disclaimer: Please be aware that this site is no longer under active management. As a result, we cannot assure the accuracy or relevance of the content provided. Visitors should use their discretion and consider the potential for outdated or inaccurate information before relying on any material found here.