Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 15:05 UK

Q&A: Child benefit

A mother and her child
Child benefit is taken up by nearly 100% of the eligible population

Child benefit is one of the few non-means tested benefits left. BBC News explains how it works and how much it is worth.

How much is child benefit?

Child benefit is worth £20 every week for a first-born child.

For each subsequent child, there is an additional weekly payment of £13.20. The money is not taxed.

Who can receive it?

It is available for every child in the UK below the age of 16, child benefit is paid to the parent directly responsible for care of the youngster.

You may get Child Benefit if you pay towards bringing up a child who does not live with you - if no one else is claiming the benefit for them.

Those in full-time education remain eligible until the age of 19, but the cut-off point for children registered for work or training is 18.

How many parents claim it?

Child benefit is taken up by nearly 100% of the eligible population.

Which department administers the benefit?

HM Revenue & Customs is responsible for the administration of child benefit; previously it was overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Can it count against other benefits?

If you have a low income you may be entitled to means-tested benefits which could top up your income.

But child benefit can count against entitlement to these benefits, as it is taken into account when calculating income support, housing benefit and other financial assistance.

Whose idea was that?

After World War II, bringing up several children was encouraged to restore the birth rate.

And in 1945 the Family Allowance was introduced provide benefit for second and subsequent children.

What about the first-borns?

In 1975, then Labour social affairs secretary Barbara Castle put forward the Child Benefit Act proposing additional benefit for the first child.

And between 1977 and 1979, child benefit replaced the Family Allowance and Child Tax Allowance.

Where can I get further information?

Contact the Child Benefit Office enquiry line (Great Britain residents), telephone: 0845 302 1444/ Textphone: 0845 302 1474.

Northern Ireland residents, telephone: 0845 603 2000.

The Revenue website has more information on eligibility.



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