Claiming Benefits for Home Educated Post-16s
Child Benefit and Tax Credits are payable for qualifying young people in full-time education. Home education is recognised as valid for CB and CTC purposes. The GOV.UK page on child benefit 16-19 says child benefit "continues if they stay in approved education or training"...and "can include...home education - if started before your child turned 16."
HMRC Guidance Notes also say "education at home must have started before the young person reached age 16." This guidance note is sometimes misread as saying that EITHER that the young person must have been home educated continuously without a break OR that the young person must ONLY have been home educated and not ever spent a day at school. Should any misunderstanding arise over this guidance note, your MP will be able to assist.
HMRC lists the changes which must be reported which include when the child "starts being educated at home and is 16 or over". See HMRC Tax Credits Manual TCM0034040 - Changes - children (F-Z): Full-time non-advanced education or approved training - continuing, linked from Tax Credits Manual Index on the HMRC website. See also Tax Credits Guide
As explained here, any paid work undertaken by the young person must be less than 24 hours per week.
Home Education Valid Form Of Post-16 ParticipationRead more here
Home educating parents may wish to bear the following observations in mind, which are taken from home educators' experience of the system. Once the parent says that the young person's continuing education will be home education, the tax office then asks a series of questions about "courses" and "exams". In the short term, parents who are concerned about whether the tax office will accept home education may be tempted to play up the fact that their son or daughter is currently studying for an exam or is on a course, as though this will somehow compensate in tax office terms for the young person's not attending college. However, it should be noted that home education, including autonomous home education, is itself recognised by the tax office, as long as the young person is "working towards" qualifications and is meeting the other conditions for being "a qualifying young person." The Links section at the foot of the page has further information.
In other words, if it is intended that the home education will continue until the young person is 19, and home education at 16 has only been recognised because of courses or exams, then once these courses or exams cease, the tax office may decide that the young person is no longer in education. In addition, if the young person is only studying for 1 or 2 exams, the tax office may judge that this is "not full-time". We are not suggesting that exams or courses should not be mentioned, simply that they could perhaps usefully be presented as elements of the larger picture of full-time home education.
- CB and CTC are separate and you will have to make separate claims and renewals
- CTC is confirmed retrospectively; if your circumstances have not changed you must still send this information to the tax office or risk having to repay credits from the previous tax year
- It is possible to confirm your details over the phone but you should keep a record of dates and details discussed
- It is not necessary to be "doing a course" in the traditional sense
- For home educators "doing a course" can be translated as "following a course of home education"
- If you answer only for a traditional "course", the tax office may decide it is not full-time
- If you answer only for a traditional "course", the tax office may decide education has finished when the "course" finishes.
- It is not necessary to be studying for exams or taking exams
- Part-time exams can be seen as only one element of a full-time home education course
- If part-time exams are only one element of a full-time home education course, then the home ed course does not cease when the exams are finished.
- It is not necessary to be "at college"
- If you are unsure whether your son/daughter will be attending college, the tax office will stop your benefits until you can confirm that the young person is continuing in education
- For the tax office, "college" = "education" and "not college" = "not education"
- For the tax office, "exams" = "education" and "finished exams"= "finished education"
- Where a young person decides college is not a good fit and returns to home education, the tax office may count this as "ceasing to be in education" and benefit may be stopped
- For the tax office, "college" = "education" and "left college" = "left education"
- It is difficult but not impossible to get this benefit reinstated and backdated
- The tax office is extremely interested in the date at which home education began, ie the day, month and year. You should have these details at your fingertips if you are dealing with the tax office, especially over the phone
- In the absence of any other definitive date, the home education "course" will end on the last day before the young person reaches age 20
- The tax office may initially have difficulty understanding what is meant by home education
- Your MP may be very helpful in getting benefits reinstated
- Your MP may decline to get involved if the matter has already gone to a formal appeal
- Appeals may not be accepted beyond a certain deadline (eg 30 days)
- It is better to sort out post-16 benefits before the deadline, in order to have unbroken claim
- If you don't have confirmation in writing that Child Benefit AND Child Tax Credit will continue to be paid, it is advisable to request written confirmation
LinksEye Test 16+ Home educated
Learning Difficulty Assessment 16+
GOV.UK Child Maintenance
GOV.UK Tax Credits
"We can pay Child Benefit for a young person aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 who is in full time non advanced education at a school or college (or somewhere other than a school or college if, before the child's 16th birthday, they received education elsewhere"
"Full time" = 12 hours or more. Link