Martin Lewis shares child benefits warning and reveals why the payment could stop at end of this month

Parents of children aged 16 or over could risk losing their benefits

Martin Lewis
(Image credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has issued an urgent warning to parents over child benefits and revealed that payments could stop at the end of this month if they don't take any action. 

From his handy tips for avoiding Spotify's price hike, his reminder about this passport mistake ahead of summer holidays and his brilliant council tax tip that could save you £100s, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is full of invaluable advice. 

In his most recent Money Saving Expert newsletter, the TV personality revealed yet more handy advice, sharing that parents of children who are 16 or approaching 16 and are in full-time education could be at risk of losing out on their child benefits if parents do not contact HMRC before the end of this month [August 2023]. 

This is because, if you do claim child benefit, your payments, which just increased earlier this year, will automatically stop on 31 August in the year that your child turns 16 unless they remain in education. So, if your child is currently 15 but will turn 16 before 31 December 2023, you will still lose your benefit at the end of August 2023. 

There are a few circumstances that means parents of children over 16 can still continue to collect child benefit. One is if the child is going to continue with full time education or full time training. You can also continue claiming if they are joining the armed forces or a Government-sponsored careers programme. In these circumstances, if you notify HMRC about the fact before 31 August, then you can continue claiming the money until they turn 20.

The Money Saving Expert explains that 'full time' education means the child has to be spending an average of 12 hours a week doing supervised study or course-related work experience. This means that university degrees and BTEC Higher National Certificates do not qualify. These are considered to be 'advanced' courses and are not approved.

Similarly, you are not entitled to receive child benefit if the educational course is being paid for by an employer.

Martin Lewis, money saving expert

(Image credit: Mark Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo)

But while many reasons prohibit people from claiming child benefit, during a recent appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live, Martin Lewis told listeners that a staggering 750,000 families are missing out on more than £2,000 a year on average by not claiming the money. 

Analysis from the Think Tank Policy in Practice shows that nearly £19 billion is being left unclaimed by millions of people across Great Britain as they don't realise they qualify for benefits such Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Carer’s Allowance and Child Benefit.

He said, “Recent stats came out that 750,000 families are missing out on an average of £2,000 a year in Child Benefit. It is a monthly payment for those with parental responsibilities for children under-16 and those with children under-20 in full-time education.

“You get Child Benefit as long as no one parent doesn’t earn over £60,000 and the amount you get is reduced if one of the parents earns between £50,000 and £60,000.

“It’s a quite bonkers system because it means two earners both on £49,000 would get Child Benefit but a couple where one doesn’t earn anything and the other earns £61,000 don’t get any Child Benefit.”

Find out what child benefit is, if you are eligible and how much you could get with our handy explainer article

Martin Lewis

(Image credit: Denise Maxwell/ Alamy Live News)

There's little need to panic about missing the deadline as, as the expert's website explains, HMRC usually sends out a letter to parents when their child turns 16 to ask what their plan going forward is so they can implement or remove the proper payments. It is simple to either reply to the letter in the post or let HMRC know by using your Government Gateway account on GOV.UK.

Plus, the government's website states that if you miss the August deadline, you will still be able to claim Child Benefit, but your payments might be late.

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.