Child Benefit

Child Benefit and Home Education


HMRC Child Benefit Technical Manual

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."


Child Benefit is administered by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Child Benefit is a tax-free payment that you can claim for your child. It is usually paid every four weeks but can sometimes be paid weekly. There are two separate amounts, with a higher amount for your eldest (or only) child. The payment can be claimed by anyone who qualifies, but is subject to the high income charge See also GOV.UK Child Benefit.

If you're responsible for a child, you can normally get Child Benefit for them - even if you're not their parent. Child Benefit payments usually stop when your child reaches 16, unless they are a "qualifying young person" in education or training that counts for Child Benefit.

The most comprehensive reference is HMRC's Child Benefit Technical Manual, pictured here.

Child Benefit remains payable to all eligible claimants on behalf of ALL "qualifying young people" in full-time education (12+ hours in England) beyond the age of 16 up to the age of 20, whether they attend school/college or are educated otherwise as long as the education is not above Level 3 (A Level or equivalent).

It is not necessary for the young person to be studying for exams or to be on a course. The academic year begins on September 1st. Education is compulsory until 30th June after the young person's 16th birthday. For example if the young person turns 16 on September 5th, child benefit will continue to be paid automatically until the following 31st August.

"Full time" = 12 hours or more. Link

Under certain conditions, 16+ Child Benefit can be paid while a young person is ill and unable to participate in education, this is called INTERRUPTION. More

Child Benefit continues to be payable even if the child works up to 23 hours a week as long as it is not more than 24 hours of paid work a week. (NB there may be other means tested benefits claimed at the same time that are affected by a LOWER weekly paid hours limit, ie it may not be 24 hours across the board)

Child Benefit is administered separately from Tax Credits.


Benefits for Home Educated 16+
Free Eye Test 16+ Home Educated
Changes to Benefit System
Universal Credit Sanctions

Child Benefit Form Questions

These are the follow-up questions you will now be asked on form CHFTE.4 after you say you are home educating post-16.

First Page Child Benefit Form

About education somewhere other than at a school or college

1. On what date did they last go to a school or college? DD MM YYYY
2. When did they first start to be educated somewhere other than at a school or college? DD MM YYYY
3. When do you expect their education somewhere other than at a school or college to end? DD MM YYYY
4. What subjects are they studying?
5. Are they studying for any qualifications?
If Yes, please tell us what they are
When will they take their final exam? DD MM YYYY
6. Do they get supervised study, tuition or instruction?
This can be provided by a teacher, a tutor or another person
If Yes, what subjects do they get supervised study, tuition or instruction for?
Where does the supervised study, tuition or instruction take place?
How many hours of supervised study, tuition or instruction do they get each week?
7. Tell us about any other study they do as part of their course each week
This can be work set by a tutor, coursework, exercises, practical work, projects or examinations.
How many hours of other study do they do each week?
8 Do they have a statement of special educational needs*?
If Yes, send us a copy of it.
9 Has the local authority approved the education*?
If Yes, send us a copy of the local authority approval.
10 Do they get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or tax credits in their own right?
If Yes, which benefit do they get?
If Yes, which benefit do they get?

You may be entitled to Child Benefit for up to six months for a young person who cannot attend school, college, or training but there must be a good reason why they cannot attend, for example:
• they are ill
• the school, college, or training establishment is temporarily closed • they are moving from one school, college, or training establishment to another • someone close to them is ill or has died • they are pregnant

If they cannot attend because of illness or disability, you may be entitled to Child Benefit for longer.

CHFTE4 November 2014 pdf CHFTE November 2014 image 1 CHFTE November 2014 image 2

NB in relation to Q8, "statement of special educational needs" also covers equivalent Plans for special needs/additional learning needs. However, it is ONLY relevant if the home education has begun AFTER the age of 16 and therefore you only need to check this box if you intend to rely on the provisions of the special needs Plan for education otherwise than at school in your post-16 Child Benefit claim.

Similarly, in respect of Q9, the issue of "local authority approval" ONLY arises in cases where home education has begun AFTER the age of 16 and where you are relying on LA-approved education otherwise than at school via eg an EHCP in your post-16 Child Benefit claim. There is no new requirement for LA approval where the pre-16 home education condition has been met.

HMRC Explains Questions

In 2013 I wrote to HMRC to clarify the purpose of the questions on the Child Benefit form:

Please note that the query about Question 1 is no longer applicable as HMRC have now removed this question from the form following discussion at the Home Education APPG More

2. "When did they first start to be educated somewhere other than at a school or college?"
We require an answer to this question to decide if Child Benefit is payable as any education elsewhere must have started prior to the child’s 16th birthday in order to qualify for benefit. In relation to your enquiry this question relates to when the young person began their home education. It does not relate to informal education elsewhere or at home such as a parent helping their child with homework while they were in the school/college system. The primary qualifying condition for Child Benefit entitlement in these cases is whether the education elsewhere began prior to the child/young person’s 16th birthday.

3. What does studying mean in relation to the question “Are they studying for any qualifications” and if “working towards” is an acceptable answer.
Working towards qualifications is the same as studying towards qualifications from a Child Benefit entitlement perspective. Studying in this instance means a child/young person in a learning environment other than at school/college where they are progressing in an educational sense even though that learning environment may be structured differently than at a school/college.

Child Benefit Online Form

You can notify HMRC online about your child continuing in full-time education. In August 2018 I was alerted to the fact that the online form now has a home education option. You need to register for a Government Gateway account and if you already have one then you will be automatically telephoned with a security number to type in when you click to complete the form. Please use the contact form to ask me more.

online registration example

Home Education Valid Form Of Post-16 Participation "For young people who are being home educated, no hourly requirement of education applies: the amount and content of that education is at the discretion of the home educator. In most circumstances it will be the young person themselves who states that they are home-educated. If the authority believes there is some doubt in the matter they may wish to seek confirmation of this from the parent or guardian, but no on-going monitoring of the education is required." Click here to read my page on raising the leaving age.

"Qualifying Young Person" Age 16-20

As stated on the web page on Child Benefit after 16: "The Child Benefit Office can carry on paying Child Benefit up until the age of 20 if the qualifying young person is in relevant education or training. HMRC web page on reporting changes after your child is 16 HMRC lists the changes which must be reported, including when the child "stays on at school or college after the date you told the Child Benefit Office they would leave" and "starts being educated at home and is 16 or over".

As explained here, any paid work undertaken by the young person must be less than 24 hours per week.

Tax Office Letter

At some point in the school year in which the child turns 16, parents can expect to receive a letter from the Child Benefit Office asking whether the child will be continuing their full time education post 16. HMRC web page on child benefit for children over 16 Normally parents will be asked to fill in this form answering questions about the child's post-16 education otherwise than in a school or college.

Definition "Full-Time Education" for Child Benefit

The Education Section at the Child Benefit Offices, uses to decide whether education undertaken elsewhere is full-time, which might include unsupervised study since the circumstances of home education could be quite different from those at a recognised educational establishment. If the decision maker is satisfied that the number of hours studied each week exceeds 12 they should accept the education as full-time.

Education Not at a Recognised Establishment

Where the education is not at a recognised educational establishment, (for example at home) the decision maker must recognise the education for the student to be regarded as a young person.

Child Benefit is not payable for Higher Education

The 12+ hours of education must be "non-advanced." See HMRC Child Benefit Manual

Essentially, the course of study must not be above Level 3. Up to and including Level 3 is deemed to be "further education" but Level 4 and above are deemed to be "higher education" and if the young person is in higher education, Child Benefit is not payable.