Child benefit warning for parents as payment cut off looms

Parents of 16 and 17 year olds could risk losing their child benefit payments at the end of November

Mother sitting next to teen son on a sofa and smiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Parents across the country face losing their eligibility for child benefit at the end of November even if they could still qualify for the payments. 

Introduced in 1977, child benefit is paid to parents by the Government to help with the cost of raising a family. It is paid weekly for every child in your household until your child turns 16, or until they turn 20 if they are in 'approved' full-time training or education. And it's just been announced whether child benefit is going up in 2024.

Your child benefit stops on 31 August on or after your child’s 16th birthday if they leave education or training. If you don't want to be left wondering why your child benefit has gone down, then it's important you tell HMRC if your child is remaining in education or taking part in an approved training programme so that you can continue to receive the payment. 

If they carry on in approved education or training programme until they are 20, your child benefit payments will stop at the end of February, May, August, or November, whichever comes first. 

With the November cut-off just around the corner, parents of 20 year olds who are no longer in education or training will see their payments come to an end. But if your child leaves education or training and is aged between 16 and 17, there are some circumstances where you can extend the child benefit payments. Here's what you need to know:

How to extend your child benefit payments

If your child is aged 16 or 17 and has left approved education or training, you could qualify for a child benefit 'extension' which lasts for 20 weeks. But in order to qualify for this, your child must have signed up to join the armed forces or registered with a government-sponsored careers service. Your child must also work less than 24 hours a week and not receive certain other benefits, such as income support. 

To be eligible for the extension, you must also have been entitled to child benefit immediately before your child left the approved education or training and applied for it within three months of them leaving. If you think you qualify, you can apply for the extension online.

Another way to make sure you are still getting child benefit if you are eligible is to make sure you tell HMRC if your 16 year old is staying on in approved education or training. You should receive a letter in your child's last year at school asking you to confirm their further education plans. 

You’ll be sent a letter in your child’s last year at school asking you to confirm their plans but that normally has a deadline of the end of August. However, if you have missed the deadline and have stopped receiving child benefit, you can still tell HMRC that your teenager is entitled to child benefit, but your payments could be late. This depends on how soon after 31 August you contact HMRC, and when you normally receive your payment.

Approved education or training for child benefit eligibility

The term approved education or training can be confusing, so here's a breakdown of what falls within that term.

Education must be full-time (more than an average of 12 hours a week of supervised study or course-related work experience) and can include:

  • A levels or similar
  • T levels
  • Scottish Highers
  • NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
  • home education - if it started before your child turned 16 or after 16 if they have special needs
  • traineeships in England

Your child must be accepted onto the course before they turn 19.

Approved training should be unpaid and can include:

  • in Wales: Foundation Apprenticeships, Traineeships, or the Jobs Growth Wales+ scheme
  • in Scotland: the No One Left Behind programme
  • in Northern Ireland: PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success or Skills for Life and Work

What's not approved?

You cannot get child benefit if your child is studying an ‘advanced’ course, such as a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate, or if a course is paid for by an employer. Courses that are part of a job contract are not approved either.

You might also be interested in how much it costs to raise a child, as well as the average childcare costs to see where your child benefit payments could be best put to use.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.