Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook
Part 1: Benefits and tax credits
Chapter 2: Child benefit
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Chapter 2: Child benefit

This chapter covers:

1. What is child benefit (below)

2. Who is eligible (Cross reference)

3. Amount of benefit (Cross reference)

4. Claiming child benefit (Cross reference)

5. Challenging a decision (Cross reference)

6. Other benefits and tax credits (Cross reference)

Basic facts

– Child benefit is paid to people who are responsible for a child or a 'qualifying young person'.

– Both full-time and part-time students can claim child benefit.

– If you are under 20, someone else may be able to claim child benefit for you if you are studying.

– Child benefit is not means tested.

 

1. What is child benefit

Child benefit is paid to people who are responsible for a child or 'qualifying young person'. You do not have to have paid national insurance contributions to qualify for child benefit. It is not means tested, so the amount you get is not affected by your student loan, grant or other income. If you earn over £50,000 and you or your partner get child benefit, you may have extra income tax to pay (known as the 'high income child benefit charge'). 


2. Who is eligible

You qualify for child benefit if:Footnote

you are responsible for a child or 'qualifying young person' – ie: s/he lives with you; or you contribute to the cost of supporting her/him at a rate of at least the amount of child benefit for her/him; and

you have priority over other potential claimants. Only one person can get child benefit for a particular child. There is an order of priority for who receives it where two or more people would otherwise be entitled; and

you are 'present and ordinarily resident' in Britain, not a 'person subject to immigration control' and have a 'right to reside'. These terms are explained in CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

You do not have to be the child's parent to claim child benefit for her/him.

Being a student, whether full or part time, does not affect your entitlement to child benefit.

If you are a 'qualifying young person' (see Cross reference), your parent or someone else who is responsible for you may be able to claim child benefit. You cannot, however, claim child benefit for yourself.

If a qualifying young person gets universal credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, working tax credit or child tax credit in her/his own right, any child benefit paid for the young person stops.

If a young person lives with a partner, or is married or in a civil partnership, you can get child benefit for her/him if s/he lives with you or you still contribute to her/his support, but only if her/his partner is in 'relevant education' (see Cross reference) or approved training. The young person's partner cannot be the claimant. 

In some circumstances, special rules apply – eg, if your child is being looked after by a local authority or is in prison or a young offenders' institution. 


Who counts as a child

Anyone aged under 16 counts as a 'child' for child benefit purposes, whether or not s/he goes to school. Provided you meet the other qualifying conditions, child benefit can be paid for her/him.Footnote Child benefit can also be paid for a child after s/he reaches 16 until at least 31 August after her/his 16th birthday, and then for as long as s/he continues to count as a 'qualifying young person’.


Who counts as a qualifying young person

A 'qualifying young person’ is someone who:Footnote 

is aged 16 and has left full-time non-advanced education (see below) or training. This only applies up to 31 August after her/his 16th birthday (but see below); or

is aged 16 or 17, has left education or training and satisfies the extension period rule (see Cross reference); or

is aged 16 or over but under 20 and is on a course of full-time non-advanced education (see below) not provided as a result of her/his employment, or approved training not provided under a contract of employment. 'Approved training' is defined as Employability Fund activity.Footnote The young person must have started the course or training before reaching 19, or have been accepted or enrolled to undertake it before that age; or

is aged 16 or over but under 20 and has finished a course of full-time non-advanced education not provided as a result of her/his employment, or approved training not provided under a contract of employment, but is accepted or enrolled on another such course. Note: if the course s/he has finished is an approved training course, this only applies if the following course is also approved training. Although someone must have started, or been accepted or enrolled on, the training or education when s/he was under 19 to be a qualifying young person once the course begins, the rules do not specify this for the gap between courses.Footnote If the young person was accepted or enrolled after reaching age 19, you can argue that s/he is a qualifying young person from the end of the course until the next course begins; or is aged 16 or over but under 20 and has left full-time non-advanced education (see below) or approved training but has not passed her/his terminal date (see Cross reference).

 

Full-time non-advanced education

'Full time' is more than 12 hours a week of classes and supervised study during term time.

'Non-advanced education' is anything below degree, Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma level, and includes school-level courses, Scottish Vocational Qualification levels 1–3, National Certificates, National Progression Awards and Scottish Wider Access Programme courses.

If your child counts as a qualifying young person on more than one of the above grounds, s/he counts as a qualifying young person until the last day that applies.Footnote

If you stop being entitled to child benefit for your child because s/he no longer counts as a qualifying young person, but s/he later satisfies one of the above conditions again and so counts as a qualifying young person once more, child benefit can again become payable for her/him. Note: in some cases, you can continue to claim during such an interruption - eg, if the young person is ill or the gap is less than six months. In both cases, the interruption must be accepted as being reasonable.Footnote

Note: in the rest of this chapter, the term 'child' is used to mean both children under 16 and qualifying young people aged 16 or over.


The extension period

If your child is 16 or 17, s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person, and so child benefit can continue to be paid for her/him, during an 'extension period’ if:Footnote s/he has left education or training; and s/he is registered as available for work, education or training with Skills Development Scotland; and s/he is not in remunerative work – ie, work of 24 hours a week or more for payment or in expectation of payment; and you were entitled to child benefit for her/him immediately before the extension period started; and you apply in writing or by phone within three months of the date your child’s education or training finished.

In this context, 'education’ and 'training’ are not defined and so may mean any kind of education or training.

The extension period starts from the Monday after your child’s course of education or training ends and lasts for 20 weeks from that date. If your child reaches 18 during the extension period, unless s/he counts as a qualifying young person on another ground (see Cross reference), your child benefit for her/him ends from the first child benefit payday on or after which s/he reaches 18.Footnote


The terminal date

If your child leaves full-time non-advanced education (see Cross reference) or approved training before reaching 20, s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person until either:Footnote the 'terminal date' (see below); or her/his 20th birthday, if this falls before the terminal date.

The general rule means that unless s/he continues to count as a qualifying young person on another ground or is returning to sit an exam (see below), you stop receiving child benefit for her/him on that date.

The terminal date

Your child’s 'terminal date’ is the first of the following dates that falls after the date her/his full-time non-advanced education or approved training finishes:

– the last day in February;

– the last day in May;

– the last day in August;

– the last day in November.

If someone is doing a Higher Certificate or Advanced Higher Certificate and leaves full-time non-advanced education earlier than s/he would have done if s/he were doing a comparable course in England and Wales, the terminal date is the one that would have applied had s/he had been doing the comparable course.Footnote

A child who returns to sit an external examination in connection with her/his course of relevant education is treated as still being in relevant education until the date of the last exam.Footnote


3. Amount of benefit

 

 

Weekly rate from April 2018

Eldest eligible child £20.70

Other children (each)      £13.70

 

 

Note: child benefit rates are frozen for the next two years.Footnote


4. Claiming child benefit

Child benefit is administered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You claim child benefit on Form CH2, which you can get at www.gov.uk or from the Child Benefit Office on 0300 200 3100, HMRC's website (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs) or from Jobcentre Plus offices.

You should make a claim within three months of becoming eligible. This is because your claim can usually only be backdated for up to three months. You do not have to show any reasons why your claim was late.


Getting paid

Child benefit is usually paid directly into your bank (or similar) account. Which account it goes into is up to you. If you do not want your benefit to go into an account that is overdrawn, give HMRC details of an alternative account if you have access to or can open one.


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