Help For Children & Families


Child Tax Credit is a benefit that helps with the costs of raising a child if you’re on a low income. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit, so most people who need help with these costs now have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead.

Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is one of six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit. Unless you’re currently getting Working Tax Credit, you can no longer make a new claim for Child Tax Credit and must apply for the child element of Universal Credit instead.

On Universal Credit, you might be able to claim back up to 85% of eligible childcare costs. In 2022/23 this is up to a maximum of £646.35 for one child, or £1,108.04 for two or more children. This is compared with the 70% you could claim for childcare costs on Child Tax Credit.

To get the childcare costs element, you must:

  • be in paid work, or
  • have an offer of paid work that’s due to start before the end of your next Universal Credit monthly assessment period.

If you’re in a couple, your partner must also be in paid work. This is unless they can’t provide childcare because of a limited capability for work, or they’re caring for a severely disabled person.

You can claim the child element of Universal Credit for all qualifying children born before 6 April 2017.

If your children were born on or after 6 April 2017, you’ll only be able to claim for the first two. This is unless you had a multiple birth – or there are other limited exceptions.

If you’re already claiming Child Tax Credit

You’ll have to move to Universal Credit at some point. How and when you move depends on whether you have to make a new claim because of a change in circumstances, or are asked to claim Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

If nothing changes in your life that means you have to claim Universal Credit, DWP will contact you when it's time to move so there is no need for you to do anything until then.

Keeping your tax credits up to date

You need to renew your tax credits claim by 31 July every year if you want to keep getting them. HMRC will write to you telling you what you need to do to renew your tax credits. You should get your pack in May or June. The deadline to respond is usually 31 July each year.

Tax Credits and income changes

If your income goes up by £2,500 or more and you delay telling HMRC or wait until the next time your claim is due to be re-assessed, you might find you’ve been overpaid tax credits.

You’ll be asked to pay this extra money back. This will be either by reducing your future tax credits, or by direct payments if your tax credits have stopped. To avoid this bill, it’s even more important to tell HMRC within 30 days of when you get the extra money.

It’ll be easier for your tax credits to be adjusted, and decrease the chance you’ll be chased for over-payments later. It also works the other way. If your income falls by £2,500 or more, you might be entitled to more tax credits. If you’re asked to repay tax credits and will struggle to pay, speak to HMRC as soon as you can.

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