Child benefits claimants across the UK have been left confused after receiving the payment earlier than expected this month.
People due to be paid on Monday have taken to social media to question the payment after discovering it in their accounts on Friday, with no warning from HMRC.
The benefit is usually paid in either weekly or monthly instalments and is made to parents or guardians who are responsible for raising a child under the age of 16, or a young person under 20 who is in full-time education or on certain approved training courses.
Why has the payment changed?
The reason for the earlier payment is because of the upcoming bank holidays for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Thursday and Friday next week.
It means that claimants who are usually paid weekly on a Monday will receive payment on Friday 27 May instead of Monday 30 May.
Those paid four-weekly will receive one week of child benefit on Friday 27 May and three weeks of child benefit on Monday 30 May.
People who are due weekly payments on Tuesday 31 May will receive them on Monday 30 May, and those who receive monthly payments will receive one week’s payment on Monday 30 May and the remaining three weeks’ payment on Tuesday 31 May.
A HMRC spokesman explained: “In short, it’s just processes and working them around the bank holidays, and nothing for customers to worry about.
“We usually process payments for customers on Thursday and Fridays for the following Monday and Tuesday. Of course this isn’t possible because of the bank holidays falling on these two dates next week.
“Instead, we processed payments due Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 May earlier this week, so that we can process payments due on Monday 6 June early next week (as opposed to the usual Thursday/Friday). This will ensure customers receive payments due on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 June on time.
“In terms of the split payments, there were some things that we needed to iron out to ensure customers receive their payments on time because of the double bank holiday, which is why they have been processed in this way.
“This however does not leave customers out of pocket as they will still receive the full amount on or before it is usually due.”
What are the Child Benefit rates?
New rates for Child Benefit payments came into force on 11 April 2022, alongside increases to several state payments, including Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
There are two Child Benefit rates for claimants, the first for the eldest child and the second for any additional children.
Before April, claimants received £21.15 per week for the eldest child and £14 per week for any additional children.
These payments have now increased, with weekly payments now at the following rates:
- Eldest or only child - £21.80
- Additional children - £14.45 per child
The new rates mark an increase of 65p and 45p respectively per week.
This means that the monthly payment for an eldest or only child are £87.20, while the additional children monthly payment is £57.80.
Who is eligible to claim it?
Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child and you will normally qualify if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training, and you live in the UK.
You are considered responsible for a child if you live with them or you are paying at least the same amount as Child Benefit (or the equivalent in kind) towards looking after them, such as on food, clothes or pocket money.
Child Benefit continues for 20 weeks if 16 or 17 year olds leave education or training and register with the armed services or a government-sponsored careers service.
Eligibility rules are different if your child goes into hospital or care, or lives with someone else.
How do I claim it?
You can claim Child Benefit as soon as you have registered the birth of your child, or they come to live with you.
Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child, so parents need to decide between them who should claim. The person who claims will get National Insurance credits towards their state pension if they are not working or earn less than £184 per week.
To apply you need to complete a Child Benefit claim form on the government website and send it to the Child Benefit Office. The address is on the form.
If you need to add a child to an existing claim, you can call the Child Benefit helpline if all of the following apply:
- your child is under six months old and lives with you
- your child was born in the UK
- your child’s birth was registered in England, Scotland or Wales more than 24 hours ago
- you are a UK or Irish national and you have lived in the UK since the start of your claim
When you call, you will need your National Insurance number and your child’s birth certificate, if you have registered the birth.
The number for the helpline is 0300 200 3100.