The Child Benefit system does include special rules for when a child turns 16 years of age. It could be that benefits are stopped completely for the child at this point, or that they continue on, assuming that certain conditions are met. If you have a child that is approaching the 16 year mark and you receive benefits via HM Revenue for that child, there are definitely some things that you need to know.
When your child turns 16, benefits will stop on 31 August on or after your child’s birthday. In order for benefits to continue past this time, the child must be enrolled in approved education or training. Also, you must contact HM Revenue and Customs to inform them that the child is participating in an education or training programme. You will receive a letter by post in your child’s final year at school, and this letter will ask that confirm their plans. If you do not receive this letter, call the National Insurance number.
Approved education means that it must be full-time (more than 12 hours each week). Working towards an advanced degree does not count, nor do classes that are being paid for by an employer. Home education, traineeships in England, NVQs and other vocational qualifications, and Scottish Highers may all be considered approved. Do call the Child Benefit number if you have any questions about what does or does not qualify as approved education that will allow benefits to continue.
For training to be considered approved, it needs to be unpaid. Many apprenticeships or traineeships do qualify, as well as many job programmes. It is best to call the Child Benefit contact number to find out whether specific training is approved. If it is, you can then complete the steps required to let HMRC know that your child will be participating. You will need to inform them not only of an enrollment in such a programme, but also if your child decides to stop participating in one.
If your child leaves approved education or training, benefit payments will cease at the end of February, May, August or November (whichever of these months come first). It is possible to apply for a 20-week extension if your child has stopped education or training, but has registered with their local careers service or enlisted in the armed forces. To be granted an extension, the child will need to be either 16 or 17 years of age, work no more than 24 hours a week, and not be receiving certain benefits (such as Income Support).
If you need to report changes, you can call the Child Benefit number or contact HMRC by post. Not all changes will result in a change in the amount of benefit that you receive. Some will though, and it is possible that benefits will cease. Whatever the circumstances, it is best to report changes as soon as possible to ensure that the laws are being followed.