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HMRC internal manual

Child Benefit Technical Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Responsibility for a child or qualifying young person: Contributing to the cost of providing for a child

SSC&B Act 1992, section 143(1)(b), SSC&B (NI) Act 1992 section 139(1)(b)

If a child does not live with the claimant, entitlement can continue if the claimant contributes to the cost of providing for the child or qualifying young person at a weekly rate not less than the weekly rate of Child Benefit payable for that child or qualifying young person (the required rate).

For example, if the child’s or qualifying young person’s parent has arranged for them to stay with a relative or friend, the parent may receive Child Benefit to cover the cost of contributions towards the child’s or qualifying young person’s maintenance. However, if the person with whom the child or qualifying young person is living makes a claim, they may be entitled subject to the priority rules contained in Schedule 10 of the Act.

Types of contributions

Contributions towards the cost of contributing to a child or qualifying young person can include cash payments and contributions in kind.

If cash payments are less than the required rate, contributions in kind should also be considered. These can include

  • providing clothing
  • birthday & Christmas presents
  • pocket money

they do not include

  • treats & outings
  • travelling to visit a child or qualifying young person

as such an expense does not relieve the financial burden of looking after a child or qualifying young person.

Provision of a home depends on the nature of the provision and the intention of the partners.

For example

  • A claimant transfers the house to his wife, the intention being that the transfer should constitute a weekly amount of maintenance. This could be treated as a contribution to providing for the child or qualifying young person.
  • A claimant contributes a weekly amount to cover his share of the interest in the house in which his former wife and children or qualifying young persons are living. This could be treated as a contribution to the cost of providing for the children or qualifying young persons

Allocation of cash contributions

When deciding whether a person contributes towards the cost of providing for a child or qualifying young person

  • the claimant’s intentions
  • the frequency of payments
  • the rate of payments

and

  • the rate at which a claimant may be liable to pay, such as of the result of a court order

should be considered.

Lump sum payments intended to cover a specific period should be accepted as covering that period.

If the claimant has paid at the required rate for most weeks in a substantial period barring one or two isolated lapses, they should be treated as having contributed for the whole period.

Intermittent cash contributions

If the claimant has made intermittent payments in cash but does not contribute to the required extent, the effect of the individual payments must be considered.

An isolated payment is treated as a contribution to the cost of the child or qualifying young person in the week it is made. If the payment is at the required rate, it satisfies the test for the following week.

If the payment is more than the required rate, the balance is treated as a payment for future weeks, unless the payment is made because of a court order directing the reduction of arrears.

The amounts allocated to the week of payment and succeeding weeks should be allocated to the claimant’s best advantage, consideration being given to the number of weeks to which the sum may be allocated.

Allocation of contributions in kind

Expenditure on a gift should be allocated to the week in which it was made, and on holidays, to the period of the holiday. Expenditure on clothing should in general be allocated to the week in which it was provided. Only exceptionally should it be spread forward over the period of use. (R(F)1/73)

Allocation of contributions between children or qualifying young persons

A contribution made by the claimant for a number of children or qualifying young persons who are living with the same person should be divided among them equally.

However, if there is clear evidence that the claimant intended otherwise, the contribution should be divided accordingly.

Payments under a court order or agreement

If a claimant makes payments under

  • a court order
  • a deed

or

  • a binding agreement (as in the case of divorced or separated parents or civil partners by the by one to the other)

they should be treated as the income of the mother.

If the payments are for maintaining a child or qualifying young person who does not live with the claimant, both claimant and partner are treated as contributing to the cost of providing for the child if the claimant arranges for the payments to go to the person or home looking after the child or qualifying young person.

If a court order is varied by the court, so that payments are made direct to the person or home having care of the child or qualifying young person, the money ceases to be the claimant’s income from the date of the variation of the court order. These payments should be treated as made by the partner only.

Voluntary arrangements

If, after a divorce or separation, or the ending of a civil partnership, the father of the child or qualifying young person pays maintenance voluntarily direct to the person with whom that child or qualifying young person lives

  • the money does not become the income of the mother

and

  • cannot be treated as a contribution by the mother to the cost of providing for the child or qualifying young person

Obligation to contribute

A person must actually make a contribution before they can be treated as contributing to the cost of providing for a child or qualifying young person