Guidance

Income Support with dependants allowance: the 2 child payment limit

This document provides information on the 2 child payment limit for claimants of Income Support with dependants allowance.

Important facts – after 6 April 2017

A small number of Income Support claimants get dependants allowance for the children or qualifying young persons in their household as part of their payment

Your Income Support award letter (the letter that tells you how much money you get) will tell you if you get dependants allowance.

If you get Income Support with dependants allowance, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will no longer pay you an additional amount of dependants allowance for a third or subsequent (fourth, fifth and so on) child or qualifying young person born after 6 April 2017, unless there are special circumstances.

For example, if you already get dependants allowance for 2 children, and then a new child (born after 6 April) joins your household, you will not get dependants allowance for that new child, unless there are special circumstances.

A ‘qualifying young person’ is one of the following:

  • aged 16 to 19 and in eligible education or training
  • between their 16th birthday and the 31 August following that birthday but not in eligible education and training

In the rest of this guidance ‘young person’ means ‘qualifying young person’.

Introduction

This document provides information on the support for a maximum of 2 children for claimants of Income Support with dependants allowance.

If you get Income Support with dependants allowance

The number of children or young persons you get dependants allowance for will stay the same – so long as your circumstances stay the same.

You will be entitled to dependants allowance for any child or young person born on or before 6 April 2017, regardless of when they join your household and you become responsible for them.

You will not be entitled to dependants allowance for a third or subsequent child or young person born after 6 April 2017, unless there are special circumstances.

For example, if you already get dependants allowance for 2 children and you then give birth to a new child, you will not get dependants allowance for that new child, unless there are special circumstances.

Special circumstances

Special circumstances are also called ‘exceptions. There are some exceptions relating to the 2 child payment limit.

There are some exceptions relating to the support for a maximum of 2 children.

If you are responsible for a third or subsequent child or young person born after 6 April 2017 and they meet the criteria for an exception listed below, you may get an amount of dependants allowance for that child or young person.

The next sections describe the exceptions to the support for a maximum of 2 children for third and subsequent children and young persons.

Multiple birth

This exception will apply to all third or subsequent children in a household who are born as part of a multiple birth, apart from one child in that birth. This means the exception only applies to the additional children in that birth.

For example, if you are already getting dependants allowance for 2 existing children, then you have twins, we will only pay an extra amount of dependants allowance for one child in the multiple birth (meaning in total you will be entitled to dependants allowance for 3 out of your 4 children).

Where the first child of the multiple birth is the second child on your claim, we will also pay dependants allowance for that child (the first child of the multiple birth) as well as the other child or children of the multiple birth.

Children likely to have been conceived as a result of a non-consensual sexual act (including rape), or at a time when the claimant was subject to ongoing control or coercion by the other biological parent of the child

This exception will apply to third or subsequent children in a household who are likely to have been conceived as a result of a sexual act (including rape) to which you did not or could not consent. This means that it will apply in respect of a child who:

  • is likely to have been conceived as a result of a non-consensual sexual act (including rape)
  • was conceived at or around a time when you were subject to ongoing control or coercion by the other biological parent of the child, which had a serious effect on you

In order to qualify for this exception (for a third or subsequent child) you must no longer be living with the child’s other biological parent. You will be asked to confirm this.

We recognise that the handling of this exception is extremely sensitive. However, it is very important to have this exception in place to support you if you are in this position.

DWP staff will not question you about the incident other than to receive the claim and the supporting information. Any information received will be handled in accordance with the rules that DWP already use for holding and using extremely sensitive information.

You can find further information about the DWP personal information charter.

This exception may apply where there has been a conviction for rape or for controlling or coercive behaviour. It may also apply if you have been awarded a Criminal Injuries Compensation award for a relevant injury at or around the time of the conception. But there does not need to have been a court case, a conviction or compensation award.

If you don’t already have evidence to support this exception you will be able to fill in this form with the help of an organisation such as sexual assault referral centre or a specified rape charity, healthcare professional (for example your midwife, health visitor or doctor) or a registered social worker.

Find out which organisations can help you complete the form.

They will need to provide confirmation that your circumstances are consistent with the exception criteria. You will not be placed in the position of having to give details about the circumstances of the conception to DWP staff. Even where you cannot get this confirmation still send in the form so we can make a decision.

If you’ve been affected by a crime, domestic abuse or have found this information distressing, there is support available for you. If you need to talk to someone please contact one of the following organisations:

  • Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) – some areas of the UK have SARCs, use the NHS Choices tool to find one in your area
  • The Survivors Trust – has over 135 member agencies across the UK which provide support for survivors of rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse (Phone: 0808 801 0818)
  • Rape Crisis England and Wales – a national charity and the umbrella body for a network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres (Phone: 0808 802 9999)
  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline, run jointly by Women’s Aid and Respect, is a 24 hour, free phone national service (Phone: 0808 2000 247)
  • Rape Crisis Scotland - (Phone: 0808 801 0302)
  • Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline – a free 24 hour helpline staffed by specially trained workers and volunteers managed by Scottish Women’s Aid (Phone: 0800 027 1234)
  • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline - a free 24 hour helpline run by Welsh Women’s Aid (Phone: 0808 80 10 800)
  • Victim Support - an independent charity offering support to people affected by crime or traumatic events (Phone: 0808 168 9111)
  • the National Stalking Helpline - provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking (Phone: 0808 802 0300 or email: advice@stalkinghelpline.org)

You may find the Victim’s Information Service website useful for locating support in your local area.

The following exceptions can apply to any children that meet the criteria regardless of the order in which they joined your household.

Adopted children

Since 28 November 2018, the policy for when we will pay for children who are adopted has changed. This exception will apply to any children in a household who are adopted by a claimant from local authority care. The exception will apply from the date you become responsible for the adopted child.

This could be the date of formal adoption, or the date of placement, depending on when parental responsibility for the child passes to you.

If any of your children were adopted from local authority care you will receive a child amount for these children and it will not affect the amounts you may be able to get for any other children in your household.

The adoption exception will not apply in any of the following situations:

  • they are adopted from abroad (an overseas or ‘Convention’ adoption)
  • you or your partner were their step-parent immediately before you adopted them
  • you or your partner were their natural parent (‘natural parent’ is also sometimes called ‘birth parent’ or ‘biological parent’)

Children or young persons living with family or friends or in non-parental caring arrangements

Since 28 November 2018, the policy for when we will pay for children in non-parental caring arrangements has changed.

This exception will apply to any children or young persons who are in one of two groups:

  • if you care for a child or young person as a ‘friend and family carer’ when it is likely the child would otherwise be looked after by the local authority
  • children born to a child that you are responsible for (aged under 16), for whom you also become responsible for (the child of a child)

If any child that you get dependants allowance for is a child of a child that you are responsible for, then you will receive a child amount for these children and it will not affect the amounts you may be able to get for any other children in your household.

Friend and family carers

This exception will apply where you have a formal caring arrangement in place, such as where you have been appointed by a court as legally responsible for the child or young person. This exception may also apply where the caring arrangement is made on an informal basis.

This exception will not apply if you (or your partner) is a parent or a step-parent of the child or young person.

Formal caring

For formal caring arrangements, it may be that you have in place a Child Arrangements Order, a Guardianship, a Special Guardianship Order or be entitled to Guardian’s Allowance for that child.

In Scotland, you might be appointed as a Guardian, have a Kinship Care Order or a Permanence Order.

The exception also applies if one of these formal arrangements was in place but ended on the child’s 16th birthday, as long as you have continued to be responsible for them since.

Informal caring

In the case of informal caring arrangements, the exception will only apply if it is likely that the child or young person would otherwise be looked after by a local authority. You will need to provide supporting evidence from a local authority social worker using this IC1 form.

Children who have a child

This exception applies where a child (under 16) you are responsible for becomes the parent of a child. You will be able to get dependants allowance for that new child if they are also within your household and you are responsible for them. This exception will remain in place until the young parent turns 16 and is able to claim benefits on their own for them and their child.

The exception will stop if the young parent leaves the household, leaving their child in your care. However, you may be able to claim a non-parental care exception instead.

More information

You will still be entitled to Income Support dependants allowance for any child or qualifying young person born on or before 6 April 2017, regardless of when you became responsible for them.

You will still be entitled to an additional amount for any disabled child or young person who you become responsible for, regardless of the total number of children or young persons in your household. This is called the ‘disabled child premium’.

You may still be entitled to help with childcare costs for any children or young persons you are responsible for, even if you do not receive dependants allowance for all of them.

Certain other benefits, often called passported benefits, such as free school meals, for children or young persons will not be affected.

To ensure you don’t miss out on what you are entitled to, you should continue to report the birth of a child, a child joining your household and any changes in your circumstances involving children or young persons.

To report a change in your circumstances, contact:

Jobcentre Plus - existing claims

Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
Welsh Language: 0800 328 1744

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, NI Direct can provide you with the right information. To report a change in circumstances contact your local social security or jobs and benefits office.

Published 6 April 2017
Last updated 28 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated to reflect regulation change for adopted and kinship care children.
  2. First published.