Universal Credit full service roll-out continues - 19 July 2017

National Audit Office - HM Revenue and Customs Annual Report and Accounts 2016-17

HMRC Annual Report and Accounts 2016- 2017

The Adjudicator’s Office publishes annual report

Universal Credit full service roll-out continues - 12 July 2017

HMRC tax credits renewals video

Delivering on Universal Credit - Citizens Advice report calls for pause in Universal Credit rollout

Universal Credit full service roll-out continues - 5 July 2017

Universal Credit roll-out postponed in North Kensington

Scottish Government respond to UC flexibilities consultation

Social Security (Scotland) Bill - call for evidence

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 28 June 2017

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 14 June 2017

Tax credit intermediaries helpline UPDATE

Latest Tax Credit Error and Fraud Statistics

Universal Credit full (digital) roll-out continues - 7 June 2017

New Universal Credit regulations - further roll-out of full (digital) service

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 24 May 2017

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 17 May 2017

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 10 May 2017

Tax credit checks - HMRC video for ‘You tube’

Tax-Free Childcare: Research and reports

On this page you will find research and reports related to the Tax-Free Childcare scheme produced by Government and non-government organisations. The reports are shown chronologically.

Government reports

Other reports

Tax-Free Childcare: Public Consultations

On this page you will find public consultations related to the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Where available, we also show the Government’s response to the consultation.

Tax-Free Childcare: Scheme background

The new Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme is being gradually rolled out from 21 April 2017. It will eventually replace employer-supported childcare (including childcare vouchers). This page explains how the scheme has developed to date.

Tax-Free Childcare: Policy

This section of the website covers Tax-Free Childcare policy issues. You can see the available sections using the navigation panel on the left.

In this section you will find detailed information about the development of the TFC scheme. You will also find links to research and reports related to TFC and details of all public consultations that have been held prior to launch of the scheme.

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 3 May 2017

Work and Pensions Committee publishes report on self-employment and the gig economy

HMRC update Work and Pensions Committee on changes to compliance processes

CPAG Scotland publish report on Universal Credit full service roll-out

Work and Pensions Committee writes to Minister highlighting concerns about Universal Credit

Tax Credit renewals exercise 2017

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 26 April

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 19 April

Consultation on Free School Meals in Northern Ireland

Public Accounts Committee Report - Concentrix

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 12 April

Tax Credits: Bereavement

When a tax credit claimant dies, or a child who is included in a tax credit claim dies, this is a change of circumstances which must be notified to HMRC within 30 days. Notification of a death can be done using the ‘Tell us once’ service, where it is available. There is more information about reporting changes for tax credits in our section called Changes which must be reported to HMRC.

In this section we outline what happens with a tax credit claim when someone included in the claim dies.

Tell us once

Tell us once is a Government service which links up a notification of death across many different Government records so that the person notifying the death doesn’t have to notify each different area separately. The service isn’t available right across the UK or in Northern Ireland. There is information on the GOV.UK website which shows how ‘Tell us once’ works, which records it covers and where it is available.

Other ways to notify HMRC

As well as the ‘Tell us once’ service, bereavement can be notified to HMRC using any of their standard routes, on-line, by telephone or in writing. See our How to notify changes page.

Even if not using the ‘Tell us once’ service, it is possible to ask HMRC to record the notification of death on all their records relating to the person. We recommend always to make a note of the notification and keep a record either or the letter (if writing), date and time of the call (if phoning) or an electronic copy of the notification (if using HMRC’s on-line service).

Single claim

When a tax credit claimant who has made a single claim dies, the death must be notified to HMRC, either directly or via the ‘Tell us once’ service.

HMRC will end the claim.

Joint claim

Where a claimant dies who was part of a joint claim, the joint claim will end and the surviving partner will need to re-claim to continue to receive tax credits.

However, in some areas where UC full (digital) service is available, most people cannot make a fresh tax credit claim and will need to claim UC instead. There is more information about claiming UC in our UC section.

When making a fresh tax credits claim, or a fresh UC claim, it is important that the surviving partner takes care to check what income, (and capital, for UC) must be included, particularly in light of any monies paid out of the deceased estate or related changes to pensions and bereavement payments.

Children

Where a child or qualifying young person included in a claim dies, any child tax credit for them continues for 8 weeks from the date of death or, until the young person would have reached age 20 if that date is sooner.

It is important to bear in mind that entitlement to WTC can be affected if there is no other child or qualifying young person included in the claim and the claimant does not work more than 16 hours a week (or jointly 24 hours a week in a joint claim). See our WTC section for more information.

If is also important to check whether any other changes to the tax credit claim should be notified to HMRC as a result of the bereavement, for example any changes to childcare costs.

HMRC have confirmed that, in a case where there is another child included in the claim but for whom a child element is not included due to the 2-child limit, HMRC will re-assess whether a child element should become payable for that child as a result of the bereavement notification.

Special Cases

If a person dies before HMRC either before they claimed or before have made an outstanding decision on their claim, HMRC can continue to continue to deal with the claim, in limited circumstances, to ensure entitlement is properly calculated up to the date of bereavement. There is more information about this in HMRCs technical manual, TCTM06108.

There is some information about child bereavement and what to do when someone dies on the GOV.UK website.

Universal Credit and tax credit - Upper tribunal cases

Childcare vouchers Scotland

Update on child disability element Autumn Statement 2016 announcement

Tax Credits: 2 child limit policy

This page explains the new 2 child limit policy that comes into force for child tax credit from 6 April 2017.

Please note that the policy is new and the full details of how it will work in practice are not yet available. We are in the process of producing a more detailed guide for advisers on the 2 child limit and tax credits which will be available in the next few weeks. In the interim, this text is taken from the LITRG website for claimants to give an overview of the new policy.  

On this page where we talk about a child it includes any child under 16 or qualifying young person aged 16 or over and under age 20 who you are responsible for.

What is the 2 child limit policy?

In the 2015 Summer Budget the Government that the child element of child tax credit (CTC) would be limited to two children for those born after 6 April 2017 unless certain exceptions apply.

Prior to 6 April 2017, the child element of CTC was paid for each child or qualifying young person that the claimant (or their partner) was responsible for.

The change means that anyone who is responsible for a child born on or after 6 April 2017 will not receive the child element for that child unless:

The child element of child tax credit will continue to be paid for all children born before 6 April 2017.

Even if the child element is not payable for your child, it is important that you still report the birth or a child or a child joining your household to HMRC as soon as possible and no later than one month after it happens to make sure you don’t lose out on any related payments. This is because you may still be entitled to the child disability element of CTC or the childcare element of working tax credit. These amounts are not affected by the 2 child limit policy. It will also mean that if one of your other children move off the claim, the child not receiving a child element may then qualify for a child element. If they are already on the system, this should happen automatically.

Existing tax credit claimants

If you are already claiming child tax credit on 6 April 2017, you will continue to receive a child element for each of the children on your claim (born before 6 April 2017).

If you become responsible for a third or subsequent child born after 6 April 2017, you will not receive a child element for them unless one of the exceptions explained below applies.

Example 1

Dominic and Josie have four children (born in 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2016). In 2016/17 their tax credit claim included four child elements – one for each child.

Their 2017/18 tax credit claim will also include four child elements – because all of the children were born before 6 April 2017 the family are not affected by the 2 child limit policy.

Example 2

Daisy and Mike have two children born in 2012 and 2015. In 2016/17 their tax credit claim included two child elements.

In May 2017, their third child is born. They will not receive a child element for their new child because the baby was born after 6 April 2017 and they are already receiving child elements for two other children.

Example 3

Molly has two children born in 2012 and 2015. In 2016/17 her tax credit claim included two child elements.

In May 2017, Molly gives birth to her third child. Under the normal rules, Molly would not receive a child element for her third child because the baby was born after 6 April 2017 and she is already receiving child elements for two other children. However, Molly meets the conditions for a non-consensual conception exception (see below) and so a third child element is included in Molly’s tax credit award.

Example 4

Pete and Millie have one child born before 6 April 2017. In May 2017, their second child Freddy is born. They will receive the child element for Freddy because they are not already claiming for two or more children.

However, if Pete and Millie go on to have a third child in say September 2018, they will not receive the child element for that child unless an exception applies because they will already be claiming for 2 children.

Some tax credit claimants may find themselves responsible for a child through adoption or other friend and family care arrangements. If you are already claiming a child element for two children, you may not receive a child element for them. However, if the child is born after 6 April 2017, they are the third child on your claim and they are younger than other children on the claim then one of the exceptions below may apply so that you will receive a child element for them.

Example 5

May is a single parent. She claims CTC for her two children who were born in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In May 2017, she adopts a baby. Under the normal rules, she would not receive a child element in respect of her new baby because she is already claiming for two other children. However, she can claim an adoption exception meaning she will receive the child element for all three children.

If May was to give birth to a fourth child in July 2018, she would not receive the child element for that child unless one of the other exceptions applied.

The rules become more complicated if you become responsible for a child born before 6 April 2017 when you are already claiming for two children and one or both of them were born after 6 April 2017.

Example 6

Sven and Celine have two children – Anna (born in 2010) and Elsa (born on 1 May 2017). They claim CTC for both children. In August 2018, they adopt a third child – James who was born in 2013. They want to claim CTC for James.  

As James was born before 6 April 2017 he is entitled to the child element of CTC – no adoption exception is required. However, by adding James to the claim, the child element will be removed from for Elsa. This is because the couple are already claiming the child element for 2 or more children (Elsa and James).

However, the rules allow for an exception in this situation – Elsa will receive an exception as the first or second child because certain conditions are met and so the couple will receive child elements for all three children.

New tax credit claimants

If you are making a new claim for tax credits after 6 April 2017, you may be affected by the 2 child limit policy if you are trying to claim for more than 2 children.

A child element will be included on your claim for all children born before 6 April 2017.

Example 7

Iris and Daniel make a new claim for tax credits in July 2017. They have four children, all born before 6 April 2017. They will be entitled to a child element for each of the four children because they were all born before 6 April 2017.

Example 8

Jonathan and Anne make a new claim for tax credits in July 2018. They have four children. Matilda and Jake were born in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Kristen was born in May 2017 and Milo in June 2018.

Starting with the earliest born child:

  • The child element will be included for Matilda because she was born before 6 April 2017
  • The child element will be included for Jake because he was born before 6 April 2017
  • The child element will not be included for Kristen because she was born after 6 April 2017 and the child element has already been allocated to 2 or more children (Matilda and Jake)
  • The child element will not be paid for Milo because he was born after 6 April 2017 and the child element has already been allocated to 2 or more children (Matilda and Jake)

A child element could only be included for Kristen or Milo if one of the exceptions below applies.

What happens if I move in with a new partner?

If you are a single claimant and you become part of a couple, you will need to inform HMRC as soon as possible and they will end your single claim. You will then need to make a new joint claim.

Example 9

William is a single parent with two children – Ross (born 2010) and Jennifer (Born 2012). He claimed tax credits in 2016/17 and his claim included a child element for each child. In July 2017, William moves in with Victoria who also has two children – Rachel (born 2012) and Devin (born 2014). Victoria’s tax credit claim also included two child elements.

In July 2017, both single claims are ended and the couple make a new joint claim. As all of the children were born before 6 April 2017, the couple will have four child elements included in their new claim.

However, a newly formed couple could receive less child elements that they were previously receiving as single claimants if any of the children are born after 6 April 2017.

Example 10

John is a single parent with two children – Jason (born 2010) and Janna (born 2012). He claimed tax credits in 2016/17 and his claim included a child element for each child. In September 2018, John moves in with Christine who also has two children – Connie (born 2014) and Christopher (born May 2017). Christine’s tax credit claim also included two child elements.

In September 2018, both single claims are ended and the couple make a new joint claim. However, they will only receive 3 child elements – for Jason, Janna and Connie. They will not receive a child element for Christopher and the 2 child limit policy applies and none of the exceptions (see below) apply.

What are the exceptions to the 2 child limit?

Children born after 6 April 2017 and who are classed as the third (or subsequent) child on the claim may qualify for an exception so that a child element can be included for them. 

When working out if a child is the third child on the claim in order to claim an exception, an ordering process is used starting with the earliest date first. The date used will either be the date of birth of the child (if the claimant is a parent or step-parent of the child) or the date the claimant became responsible for that child) in any other case.

There are five exceptions:

  1. Multiple birth
  2. Adoption
  3. Non-parental care arrangements
  4. Where a child of the claimant has a child of their own
  5. Non-consensual conception

Multiple birth

The purpose of the multiple birth exception is to recognise that families do not normally plan for a multiple birth.

In some cases, a multiple birth will not need an exception. For example, if you have twins and claim CTC for the first time – the twins will each receive a child element because you are not already receiving a child element for any other child.

The multiple birth exception will be needed where:

The first child in a multiple birth will only get the child element if they are the first or second child on that claim. If they are not, then you will not receive the child element. For all other children in the multiple birth (other than the first born) you will receive a child element for each of them due to the multiple birth exception as long as you remain responsible for at least two children born as part of the multiple birth.

Example 11

Chester and Roseanne are claiming working tax credit. They have no children. In May 2017, Roseanne gives birth to twins. As the couple are not claiming for any other children, no exception is required and the child element will be paid for each child.

Example 12

Assume that Chester and Roseanne from Example 1 had Triplets in May 2017 (rather than twins). The first child would attract the child element of CTC because there are no other children on the claim. The second child would also attract the child element of CTC. However, under the normal rules no child element would be payable for child 3 because Chester and Roseanne are already claiming for at least two children (child 1 and child 2).

The multiple birth exception means that in this case – a child element would be payable for Child 3.

Example 13

Elliott and Justine have two children who were born before 6 April 2017. In May 2017, Justine gives birth to twins – Dexter and Diane. Under the normal rules, no child elements would be paid for either Dexter or Diane, because the couple are already receiving child elements for two other children (born before 6 April 2017).

As Dexter is the first child in the multiple birth and isn’t the first or second child on the claim – no child element will be paid for him as no exception applies.

However, a child element will be paid for Diane because she is the second child in the multiple birth and the multiple birth exception applies.

Adoption

The adoption exception will apply to your child if they have been:

The exception will not apply if:

Example 14

May is a single parent. She claims CTC for her two children who were born in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In May 2017, she adopts a baby. Under the normal rules, she would not receive a child element in respect of her new baby because she is already claiming for two other children. However, she can claim an adoption exception meaning she will receive the child element for all three children.

If May was to give birth to a fourth child in July 2018, she would not receive the child element for that child unless one of the other exceptions applied.

Non-parental care arrangements

This exception will apply where you or your partner are a friend or family carer of the child. A ‘friend or family carer’ means a person who is responsible for the child and any of the following apply:

It can also apply in an informal situation where:

The exception will also apply where you are responsible for the child and any of the first 6 bullets above applied immediately prior to the child’s 16th birthday and since that date you have continued to be responsible for the child.

The exception will NOT apply if you or your partner are the parent of the child or step-parent of the child.

Where a child of the claimant has a child of their own

This exception is intended to cover situations where a child or qualifying young person that you are responsible for (and receive a child element of CTC for) has a child of their own. The CTC rules allow you to claim CTC for your child and their child. This situation is common where the claimant is the parent of one child who has a child of their own (i.e. the claimant’s grandchild).

However, if you claim this exception and go on to have another child of your own, you will not receive a child element for your own child unless one of the other exceptions apply.

Non-consensual conception

This exception applies in relation to a child where:

The rules go on to explain what  ‘did not have the freedom or capacity to agree by choice’ means. It includes (but is not limited to) circumstances which at the time the child was conceived:

Personally connected in this context means that B is in an intimate personal relationship with you or you live together and are members of the same family or have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

The claimant and B are members of the same family if, at or around the time the child in question is conceived:

The behaviour has a serious effect on a claimant if it causes the claimant to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them or it causes the claimant serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their day to day activities.

What happens if I am given an exception for my child?

If you claim an exception for a third or subsequent child, then you will receive a child element for them.

Unfortunately, the complicated rules mean that in some cases, getting an exception for one child could cause another child already on your claim to lose a child element. A special exception has been created to ensure that this does not happen.

Example 15

Nancy is a single parent who is claiming CTC for two children:

  • Joanna – born in October 2013
  • Keaton – born in May 2017

In July 2018, Nancy has a third child – Callum. Under the normal rules, Nancy would not receive a child element for Callum because she is already claiming for two other children. However, the circumstances surrounding Callum’s conception are such that the non-consensual conception exception applies. This means that Nancy is entitled to the child element for Callum.

However by adding a child element for Callum, Keaton loses his child element. This is because Keaton was also born after 6 April 2017 and a child born after that date can only qualify for a child element if:

  • There is no more than one other child on the claim; or
  • An exception applies

Now that Callum is on the claim, Keaton fails to qualify because there are two other children on the claim.

This was obviously not the intention when the 2 child policy was introduced and so the special exception ensures the child element will be paid for the ‘displaced child’ (i.e. the child who has lost the child element). This will happen where:

How do I claim an exception?

The main point to remember is that you must claim the exception at the time you add the child to the claim, if you don’t, you may miss out on the child element. If you realise at a later date that an exception should have applied, HMRC say they will only backdate the child element one month.

HMRC will require evidence that the child meets the exception conditions in most cases except for multiple births (which can be established from information already given).

How does the 2 child limit affect universal credit?

The 2 child limit policy will apply to universal credit, however the rules are different to tax credits. We are currently writing a new section for this website about universal credit.

The basic principle is that between 6 April 2017 and 31 October 2018 UC claimants will receive a child element for the first and second child but no child element will be paid for the third or subsequent child unless:

The practical effect of transitional protection is that all children or qualifying young people born before 6 April 2017 will receive a child element.

From 1 November 2018, new claimants of UC will only receive child elements for the first and second children. Third and subsequent children will not receive a child element unless an exception applies – no matter their date of birth and even if they were born before 6 April 2017.

There will be some protection for people who have claimed UC, child tax credit or some other benefits with child elements in the preceding 6 months.

Existing UC claimants, at that time, will continue to receive child elements for any child or young person who they are responsible for and who was born before 6 April 2017.

For children born after 6 April 2017, if they are the first or second child on the claim, then a child element will be paid for them. However if they are the third or subsequent child, they will only receive a child element if an exception applies (see above).

You can read more about the 2 child limit in UC in our UC section. [VT4] 

How does the 2 child limit affect other benefits?

The 2 child limit policy also affects income support, jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit claimants whose applicable amount includes an amount for a child or qualifying young person. Similar rules apply in respect of exceptions for the third child. For housing benefit claimants, the exception will be based on any exception given by HMRC for child tax credit and we are waiting for more information about housing benefit claimants who do not receive child tax credit. 

Where can I find more detailed information?

We are currently preparing a detailed guide for advisers on how the 2 child limit works for both tax credits and universal credit. We will update this page as soon as the guidance is ready.

Universal credit: 2-child limit

This page was written to help advisers understand how the 2 child limit policy, introduced into Universal Credit from 6 April 2017 works in practice.

NB: We have written this page based on the published legislation. We are still seeking further information from both HMRC and DWP about how this will work in practice and we will be updating this page as more information becomes available

Introduction to the changes

In the 2015 Summer Budget, the Government announced that two changes would be made to Universal Credit from 6 April 2017. Similar changes were announced for Child Tax Credit.

However, the due to delays with the roll-out of UC, interim arrangements have been put in place meaning that the policy will work differently in the interim period than it will once fully in place.  

Impact on who can make a claim for Universal Credit

Prior to 6 April 2017, in full (digital) service UC areas, new claims for WTC and CTC were no longer possible unless the claimant (or their partner in a joint claim) was above state pension credit age.

From 6 April 2017, most families with responsibility for three or more children will need to claim tax credits instead of Universal Credit even in full (digital) service UC areas.

However for those families, if either of two exceptions apply, a claim for UC must be made, not tax credits. The exceptions are:

For this purpose ‘reclaim’ means a claim that is made by a single person or members of a couple jointly and the claimant (or either joint claimant) meets the following conditions:

  1. The claimant was previously entitled to an award of universal credit the last day of which fell within the 6 months preceding the date on which the claim is made; and
     
  2. During that 6 months:
     
    • The claimant has continued to meet the basic conditions required for universal credit (disregarding the requirement to have accepted a claimant commitment and any temporary period of absence from Great Britain that would have been disregarded during a period of entitlement to universal credit); and
    • The claimant was not excluded from entitlement to universal credit due to restrictions (for example due to being a member of a religious order who is fully maintained by their order, is a prisoner or serving a sentence of imprisonment detained in hospital unless certain exceptions apply).

These interim rules will be in place between 6 April 2017 and 31 October 2018 – although the Secretary of State has the power to extend the interim period to protect the efficient administration of UC. From 1 November 2018, it is expected that claimants with responsibility for three or more children will claim UC instead of tax credits.

Other elements of Universal Credit

The disabled child and severely disabled child elements remain payable for as many children or qualifying young people on the claim who meet the qualifying conditions.

Similarly, the two child limit does not apply to the childcare element, so even if a child element is not payable for a child the claimant can still claim help with childcare costs for that child (as long as the other conditions for the childcare element are met). 

Even if the child element is not payable for a specific child, it is important that the claimant(s) report the addition of the child to their household to DWP/HMRC. This is because they may still be entitled to the disability elements or childcare element. It will also mean that if one of the other children move off the claim, the child may move into a position where the child element is payable. If they are already on the system, this should happen automatically.

The 2 child limit until 31 October 2018

Prior to 6 April 2017, the child element of UC was paid for each child or young person included in the claim.

From 6 April 2017 claimants will receive a child element for the first and second child or qualifying young person in their household. However, they will no longer receive the child element for a third or subsequent child born unless:

The practical effect of transitional protection is that all children or qualifying young people born before 6 April 2017 will receive a child element.

See the section below ‘ordering of children’ which explains how to order children and qualifying young people in order to establish who is the first, second, third or subsequent children on the claim.

The 2 child limit from 1 November 2018

From 1 November 2018, new claimants will only receive child elements for the first and second children. Third and subsequent children will not receive a child element unless an exception applies – no matter their date of birth (and even if they were born before 6 April 2017).

Some transitional protection will apply for people who have claimed UC, CTC or some other benefits with child elements in the preceding 6 months.

Existing UC claimants

Existing UC claimants will continue to receive child elements for any child or young person who they are responsible for and who was born before 6 April 2017.

For children born after 6 April 2017, if they are the first or second child on the claim, then a child element will be paid for them. However if they are the third or subsequent child, they will only receive a child element if an exception applies.

Ordering of children

The legislation that introduced the 2 child limit policy contains specific rules on how to order children.

When working out the order of children on the claim, all children are taken into account – including those born before 6 April 2017.

The order is based on date, with the earliest date first. The date to be used depends on the child:

Where:

- then DWP can order the children in whatever way is appropriate to ensure that the individual child element is included in respect of the greatest number of children.

A step-parent means a person who is not the child’s parent but who is:

If immediately prior to ceasing to be a member of that couple of that polygamous unit the person was, and has since remained, responsible for the child.

Re-ordering can occur when a new child joins the household. However it can also happen when a child leaves the household. When that happens, the ordering above should be looked at again.

Transitional protection

From 6 April 2017 claimants will receive a child element for the first and second child or qualifying young person in their household. However, they will no longer receive the child element for a third or subsequent child unless:

For assessment periods in which the interim period begins (it begins 6 April 2017 and is due to end 31 October 2018) or that falls wholly within the interim period:

They will receive a child element even if they are the third or subsequent child on the claim if the child/qualifying young person was born before 6 April 2017 and there are at least two other children or qualifying young people on the claim who were born before 6 April 2017 and who are the first and second children under the ordering rules.

The practical effect of this provision is that all children born before 6 April 2017 receive a child element.

For assessment periods in which the interim period ends or that begin after the end of the interim period:

There will be transitional protection if:

Two awards are connected if the later award was made:

The purpose of these provisions is to ensure that people with existing UC claims at the point the interim period ends and those who move across from CTC (either due to a change of circumstances or due to managed migration) do not lose child elements already established for children that they remain responsible for.

Exceptions

Multiple births

The purpose of the multiple birth exception is to recognise that families do not normally plan for a multiple birth.

In some cases, a multiple birth will not need an exception. For example, if a claimant has twins and claims UC for the first time – the twins will each receive a child element because the claimant is not receiving a child element for any other child.

The multiple birth exception will be needed where:

The first child in a multiple birth will only get the child element if they are the first or second child on that claim. If they are not, then they will not receive the child element. For all other children in the multiple birth (other than the first born), they will each receive a child element due to the multiple birth exception as long as the claimant remains responsible for at least two children born as part of the multiple birth.

Multiple birth example 1

Chester and Roseanne are claiming universal credit. They have no children. In May 2017, Roseanne gives birth to twins. As the couple are not claiming for any other children, no exception is required and the child element will be paid for each child.

Multiple birth example 2

Assume that Chester and Roseanne from Example 1 had Triplets in May 2017 (rather than twins). The first and second child would receive child elements, however under the new rules the third child would not receive a child element.  

The multiple birth exception means that in this case – a child element would be payable for Child 3.

Multiple birth example 3

Elliott and Justine are existing UC claimants who have two children who were born before 6 April 2017. In May 2017, Justine gives birth to twins – Dexter and Diane. Under the normal rules, no child elements would be paid for either Dexter or Diane, because they are the third and fourth children on the claim. 

As Dexter (the third child on the claim) is the first child in the multiple birth and isn’t the first or second child on the claim – no child element will be paid for him as no exception applies.

However, a child element will be paid for Diane because she is the second child in the multiple birth and the multiple birth exception applies.

Adoption

The adoption exception will apply to a child if they have been:

The exception will not apply if:

Adoption example 1

May is a single parent. She claims UC for her two children who were born in 2010 and 2012 respectively. In May 2017, she adopts a baby. Under the normal rules, she would not receive a child element in respect of her new baby because she is already claiming for two other children. However, she can claim an adoption exception meaning she will receive the child element for all three children.

If May was to give birth to a fourth child in July 2018, she would not receive the child element for that child unless one of the other exceptions applied.

Non parental caring arrangements

This exception will apply where the claimant(s) is a friend or family carer of the child. A ‘friend or family carer’ means a person who is responsible for the child and any of the following apply:

The exception will also apply where the claimant is responsible for the child and any of the first 6 bullets above applied immediately prior to the child’s 16th birthday and since that date the claimant has continued to be responsible for the child.

The exception will NOT apply if the claimant(s) is the parent of the child or step-parent of the child.

Child of a child that the claimant is responsible for

This exception is intended to cover situations where the claimant’s child has a child of their own who the claimant is also responsible for. This situation is most likely to happen where the claimant(s) is the grandparent of the child.

Note that for UC purposes a child is defined as someone under the age of 16. This exception only applies where the claimant is responsible for a child (under the age of 16) who has a child of their own. For child tax credit, the exception applies where the claimant is responsible for a child or qualifying young person, who has a child of their own.

If the claimant receives an exception for the child’s child in this situation and then goes on to have another child of their own, they will not receive a child element for their own new child unless one of the other exceptions applies.

Non consensual conception

This exception applies in relation to a child where:

The legislation goes on to further define ‘did not have the freedom or capacity to agree by choice’ as including (but not limited to) circumstances which at or around the time the child was conceived:

Personally connected in this context means that B is in an intimate personal relationship with the claimant or B and the claimant live together and are members of the same family or have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

The claimant and B are members of the same family if, at or around the time the child in question is conceived:

The behaviour has a serious effect on a claimant if it causes the claimant to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them or it causes the claimant serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their day to day activities.

Claiming exceptions

Process

Universal credit claimants who are part of the live service will need to phone DWP to add an additional child to the claim and we understand that if it is the third or subsequent child being added to claim they will be informed they will not receive a child element unless an exception applies and will be asked whether they think an exception applies. They will then be asked to send the relevant evidence for that exception (see below).

Universal credit claimants who are part of the full (digital) service will be asked on the online system if they think an exception applies when they add a third or subsequent child. They should then receive a call from a DWP adviser who will signpost them to the relevant forms online (we are investigating what options exist for those who do not have internet access). An appointment will then be arranged with a work coach where supporting evidence (see below) can be provided.

It should be noted that the exception will only be applied from the beginning of the assessment period in which it is claimed. So if a claimant phones DWP to add a child to the claim but does not claim an exception at the same time, DWP’s will not backdate the exception to the date the child was added if the claimant later contacts them to say an exception should apply.

Evidence requirements

DWP will require evidence that the child meets the exception conditions in most cases except for multiple births (which can be established from information already given).

If the claimant has previously provided evidence to HMRC for this exception, DWP can accept that the evidence has been provided for UC purposes.

Continuation of exceptions for step-parents

The regulations allow for the continuation of exceptions in cases involving step-parents. DWP say that this is to avoid a cash loss where a step-parent takes responsibility for the children after a joint claim with their parent ends. The continuation continues until the step-parent is no longer responsible for the relevant child. If the step-parent forms a new relationship, the exception would continue if they remain responsible for the child.

The regulations have introduced a specific definition of step-parent. It means a person who is not the child’s parent but who is:

* If immediately prior to ceasing to be a member of that couple of that polygamous unit the person was, and has since remained, responsible for the child.

There will be a continuation of an exception for a child if no other exception applies to that child, the claimant(s) is the child’s step-parent and the claimant has previously been entitled to an award of universal credit as a member of a couple jointly with a parent of the Child where an exception for multiple birth, adoption, or non-consensual conception applied.

The run-on will continue until either the step-parent is no longer responsible for the relevant child or until there is break in their Universal Credit entitlement over 6 months. The continuation also applies where the previous claim was CTC, old style JSA or income support.

The first child premium

Prior to 6 April 2017, a higher amount of child element was included for the first child on a UC claim – called the first child premium. This higher rate will no longer be paid for a first child born after 6 April 2017. Only claimants who are responsible for a child or qualifying young person born before 6 April 2017 will receive the first child premium.

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit - 2 child limit

CPAG UC advice service for advisers

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 5 April

Government responds to SSAC’s concerns about 2-child limit

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 29 March

HMRC Intermediary authorisation form, TC689 – PDF version now available

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 22 March

Carer’s Allowance - earnings limit increased

Changes to tax credits postal address for changes and complaints

New regulations - 2 child limit policy Universal Credit

2-child limit Tax Credit Regulations published

Wales introduce earnings thresholds in UC to passported help with health costs

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 15 March

New DWP guidance - Universal Credit benefit cap earnings threshold

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues - 8 March

Universal Credit - removal of housing costs element for some claimants aged 18-21

2017/2018 Social Security Benefits Uprating Order

Consent for advisers and MPs dealing with Universal Credit full service cases (Updated 13 March)

Removal of the limited capability for work element from 3 April 2017

DWP publish new Universal Credit guidance for claimants

CPAG briefing on the impact of UC on low income families

New regulations delay introduction of Universal Credit surpluses and self-employed losses rules

Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee letter to Minister about Universal Credit

Changes announced to Benefit Cap earnings threshold for UC claimants

New blog posts

Universal Credit full (digital) service roll-out continues

Work and Pensions Committee launch two new inquiries

Update on requesting hardship in ongoing recovery cases

Introduction of Universal Credit in Scotland - research briefing published

Universal credit statistics

In this section you will find links to Universal Credit statistics

The UC statistics allow you to see how many people have claimed, started and are currently on UC.

To help understand the UC statistics, DWP have published two background guides:

DWP currently publish statistics each month about the UC caseload:

As well as the monthly figures, ad hoc statistics are also published:

DWP are interested in getting views on the type of UC statistics that you would like to see and you can email any thoughts to Stats-consultatoin@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively you can visit the Welfare and Benefit Statistics Communityon the Royal Statistical Society Stats Usernet.

Universal credit consultations

Current consultations

Previous consultations

The Committee launched an inquiry into the Benefit Cap and how it affects British Households. The deadline for written submissions was 7 April 2017.

The Committee asked for submissions that answered the following questions:

Due to the general election on 8 June 2017, the Committee closed the inquiry. However, they did publish written evidence received in response to the inquiry on their website.

Following compelling evidence of the problems in the roll-out of UC in its recent follow-up work, the Committee re-launched its inquiry and was accepting written submissions up to 20 March 2017. The Committee were interested in submissions that answer the following questions:

This consultation sought views on two UC flexibilities – managed payments of rent to landlords and more frequent payments of UC. The closing date for responses was 13 March 2017.

In June 2017, the Scottish Government published a response to the consultation and an analysis of responses.

The Government's response states that they have made a number of changes to the draft regulations based on the responses received. As a result they have:

The new regulations will come into effect on 4 October 2017. 

Universal credit: Northern Ireland

This page explains the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) in Northern Ireland.

Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland has faced a number of difficulties and due to the many delays in getting the primary legislation in place, UC is rolling out in Northern Ireland on a different timetable to that in Great Britain.  

You can find all of the legislation in our Northern Ireland legislation section.

Roll-out timetable
Existing tax credit claimants
Changes to UC in Northern Ireland
Additional support
Welfare changes helpline

Roll-out timetable

The latest announcement from the Department for Communities confirms that UC will start to roll out in Northern Ireland from September 2017 and that it is expected to be completed by September 2018.

Until then, claimants living in Northern Ireland will continue to claim legacy benefits, including tax credits.                                    

The current roll-out is planned as follows:

Week commencing Office
25 September 2017 Limavady
13 November 2017 Ballymoney
11 December 2017

Magherafelt and Coleraine

15 January 2018

Strabane and Lisnagelvin

5 February 2018

Foyle and Armagh

19 February 2018

Omagh and Enniskillen

5 March 2018

Dungannon and Portadown

16 April 2018

Banbridge and Lurgan

30 April 2018

Kilkeel, Downpatrick and Newry

14 May 2018

Bangor, Newtownards and Holywood Road

28 May 2018

Knockbreda, Newtownabbey and Shankill

11 June 2018

Corporation Street, Falls and Andersonstown

25 June 2018

Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn and Larne

2 July 2018

Carrickfergus, Antrim and Ballymena

July-September 2018

Cookstown, Ballynahinch and Newcastle

To support the roll-out of UC, a new service centre will open in Foyle Jobs and Benefits Office and a second service centre is expected in Newry in early 2018.

A new Department of Finance Rate Rebate Scheme will provide rates support for tenants or home owners who are entitled to UC in Northern Ireland.

Existing tax credit claimants

Claimants who live in Northern Ireland and who claim tax credits or any of the other legacy benefits will be transferred to UC between July 2019 and March 2022 in line with the national plans.

See our tax credits and UC section which explains what happens to existing tax credit claimants who have changes of circumstances once UC is live in Northern Ireland.

Changes to UC in Northern Ireland

During discussions on the implementation of UC in Northern Ireland, the then Minister for Social Development secured payment flexibilities under UC for NI claimants. It was agreed that:

Twice monthly payments would be available to all households as the default, with monthly payments available on request
Split payments (paid into separate bank accounts) would be possible between parties in a household. This would be possible on the basis of the main carer and children to be determined by the Department. It would also be possible for a split payment for a couple with no children.
Managed payment of the housing element of UC direct to the landlord would be available to all, with a direct payment to the household available on request to those who meet the criteria

In January 2017 a Department for Communities screening document was published setting out the arrangements for flexible payments.

Additional support

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed support will be available for working families claiming Universal Credit. These families can apply for a supplementary payment to help with expenses because of employment.

The detail of this support is yet to be finalised and agreed by the Northern Ireland Assembly.  It is expected that payments will be available from autumn 2017. We will add further detail once it is available.

Welfare Changes Helpline

An independent helpline is available for anyone in Northern Ireland who wants help or advice about any of the changes to the welfare system. The helpline is operated by the Welfare Reform Advice Services Consortium (Citizen’s Advice, Advice NI and Law centre NI)

            Phone: 0808 802 0020 (9am to 5pm)

Additional independent advisers will also be available across all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland and located in local Citizens Advice and Advice NI offices to provide face-to-face help to anyone impacted by the changes to the welfare system.  In addition, specialist legal advice is available from the Law Centre and they can arrange access to specialist services when required.

These services are free for anyone who needs help or advice about any of the changes to the welfare system.

Evaluation of universal credit

UC represents the biggest reform of the benefits system in many years. This page links to the evaluation plans for UC and interim evaluations that have been carried out. Research published by DWP can be found in the reports and research section.

UC evaluation framework
Pathfinder evaluations
Aspects of UC evaluations

UC evaluation framework

In December 2012, DWP published an evaluation framework for UC which set out high level plans for evaluation and research.

In 2016 an updated evaluation framework was published which reviewed what had been done between 2012 and 2016 and set out evaluation plans going forward.

Pathfinder evaluations

In 2014 DWP published findings from the evaluation of the UC pathfinder

Aspects of UC evaluations

Universal Support delivered locally (July 2016)

Between September 2014 and August 2015, 11 areas in Great Britain ran trials to test new ways of identifying, engaging and support claimants that may have transitional budgeting or digital support needs under UC. The trials also explored different ways of working between local authorities, Jobcentre Plus and other local organisations.

The findings will be used to develop and inform the Universal Support strategy.

Prepaid card evaluation (July 2016)

Kent County Council carried out a prepaid card test in Summer 2015. This test the possibility of paying benefits onto prepaid cards.

Changes to notional offsetting for tax credits

Minister announces DWP to recover outsanding tax credits debt

HMRC - annual tax credits report 2015-2016

Use of real time tax data to set provisional tax credit awards

SSAC write to Minister about two child limit policy in tax credits and UC

HMRC will review Concentrix cases from summer 2016

NHS exemption certificates and tax credits update

Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance: Upper Tribunal decisions

In this section you will find decisions relating to child benefit and guardian’s allowance.

HMRC use voice ID on the tax credits helpline

Universal credit: Digital (full) service

This page explains the digital service and what this means for new tax credit claims as well as for existing tax credit claimants. For UC in Northern Ireland see our NI section.

What is a digital service area?

A digital service area is one where the UC digital service has been rolled out.

In February 2013, the Major Projects Authority expressed concerns about the UC programme. This led to a ‘reset’ of UC and new plans to be formulated. This included a proposal to operate a ‘twin-track’ approach by running a live service system alongside a new digital system.

When UC began in April 2013, it used IT assets developed by private contract suppliers. These areas are known as live service areas and will continue to be rolled out to April 2016 in order to test and learn about processes and policy.

Alongside the live service areas, DWP have built their own digital service system which started in a small number of areas in November 2014. Between November 2014 and April 2016 DWP introduced further digital test areas (see the table below for a list of digital areas). From May 2016, the digital full service is expanding so that eventually all live service areas will become digital areas. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital service.

Where are the current digital service areas?

The current digital service areas are shown below. We also show the postcodes that are known to be joining the digital service over the coming months. To find out the history of each of the postcodes listed you can use our roll-out PDF table. 

Postcode Go live date District Details

SM5 2

26 November 2014

28 January 2015
No.28 relevant district

The first digital area in Sutton was trialled between 26 November and 19 December 2014. It resumed taking claims under the digital service from 28 January 2015.

SM6 7, SM6 8 18 March 2015 No.50 relevant district  

CR0 4

SM6 9

10 June 2015 No.51 relevant district  

CR0 2

SE1 5

4 November 2015

No.52 relevant district  

SM5 1, SM5 3, SM5 9

SM6 0

2 December 2015

Further digital test roll-out

These postcodes were previously due to launch as part of the live service in April 2016.

TW3 1, TW3 4, TW4 6, TW4 7, TW5 0, TW7 4, TW7 5, TW7 6, TW7 9, TW8 0, TW8 1, TW8 8, TW8 9, TW13 4, TW13 5, TW13 7, TW13 9, TW14 0, TW14 9

SE1 0, SE1 1, SE1 2, SE1 3, SE1 4, SE1 6, SM1, SM2 6, SM4, TW3 2, TW3 3, TW4 5, TW5 9, TW7 7, TW13 6

27 January 2016 Further digital test roll-out The postcodes in bold were previously part of the live service. The other postcodes were due to launch as live service in April 2016.

CRO 1, CR0 3, SM2 5, SM2 7, SM3 8, SM5 4, SM7 3

CR0 0, CR0 5, CR0 6, CR0 7, CR0 8, CR0 9, CR9, SE1 7, SE1 8, SE1 9, SE16 2, SE16 4, SE16 5, SE16 6, SE16 7, SE25 4, SE25 5, TW14 8

EH21, EH31, EH32, EH33, EH34, EH35, EH36, EH39, EH40, EH41, EH42

23 March 2016. Further digital test roll-out

The postcodes in bold were previously due to launch as part of the live service in April 2016 but instead were changed to digital test areas from 23 March 2016.

The postcodes in italics were previously part of the live service in district 37.

 

CR2, CR3 0, CR3 5, CR5, CR6, CR7, CR8, NR13 3, NR29, NR 30, NR 31, SE25 6

27 April 2016 Further digital test roll-out These postcodes were originally due to be part of the live service but instead became digital areas on 27 April 2016.

CV21 1, CV21 2, CV21 3, CV21 4, CV21 9, CV22 5, CV22 6, CV22 7

BA1 0, BA1 1, BA1 2, BA1 3, BA1 4, BA1 5, BA1 6, BA1 7, BA2 0, BA2 1, BA2 2, BA2 3, BA2 4, BA2 5, BA2 6, BA2 9, BA3 2, BA3 3, BA3 9, BS31 1, BS31 3, BS31 9,

BS39 4, BS39 5, BS39 7

BA2 7, BA2 8, BA3 4, BS25 9, BS39 6, TA6, TA7 8, TA7 9, TA8, TA9

IP19 1, NR32, NR33, NR34 4

TA5, TA7 0

NE1, NE2, NE3 1, NE3 2, NE3 3, NE3 4, NE5 3, NE5 4, NE13 8, NE13 9

CV23 9

BA1 8, BA1 9, BS31 2, SN14 8

NE3 5, NE13 7, NE18

25 May 2016 Digital (full) service expansion These postcodes were previously part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service.

W6 0, W6 6, W6 7, W6 8, W6 9

IV1 1, IV1 3, IV1 9, IV2 3, IV2 4, IV2 5, IV2 6, IV2 7, IV3 5, IV3 8, IV4 7, IV5 7, IV8 8, IV9 8, IV10 8, IV11 8, IV12 4, IV12 5, IV12 9, IV13 7, IV21 2, IV22 2, IV26 2, IV54 8, IV63 6, IV63 7, PH19 1, PH20 1, PH21 1, PH22 1, PH23 3, PH24 3, PH25 3, PH26 3, PH26 9, PH32 4

HG1 1, HG1 2, HG1 3, HG1 4, HG1 5, HG1 9, HG2 0, HG2 7, HG2 8, HG2 9, HG3 1, HG3 2, HG3 3, HG3 4, HG4 1, HG4 2, HG4 3, HG4 9, HG5 0, HG5 5, HG5 8, HG5 9 ,LS17 0, Y051 9

HG3 5, HG4 5, Y017, Y018, Y060, Y062

DL9, DL10, DL11 6, HG4 4

DL11 7

29 June 2016 Digital (full) service expansion These postcodes were previously part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service.

W14 0, W14 4, W14 8, W14 9

WA7, WA8 0, WA8 2, WA8 3, WA8 6, WA8 7, WA8 8, WA8 9

LA1, LA2 0, LA2 6, LA2 9, LA3, LA4, LA5 8, LA5 9

BA3 5, BA4, BA5, BA6, BA11, BA16, BS27, BS28

27 July 2016 Digital (full) service expansion These postcodes were previously part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service.

WA8 4, WA8 5

SE16 3, SE16 9, SE21, SE22
5 Oct 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes were previously part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service.
BD23, BD24, DL6 1, DL6 3, DL6 2, DL7 0, DL7 7 to DL7 9, DL8 1, DL8 2, DL8 3 to DL8 5, DL8 9, LA2 7 and LA2 8, LA6 3, TS9 5, TS9 7, YO7, TA4 4, TA22, TA23, TA24, BD20 7 and BD20 8 12 October 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
SE5 0, SE5 5, SE11 9 and SE17 19 October 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
TA1, TA2, TA3 5 and TA3 6, TA3 7, TA4 1, TA4 2, TA4 3, TA10 0 and TA10 1, TA19, TA20 1 and TA20 2, TA20 3, TA20 4, TA20 9, TA21 0, TA21 1, TA21 8 and TA21 9 26 October 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
CA18, CA19, CA20, CA21, CA22, CA23, CA24, CA25, CA26, CA27, CA28, NN6 6 to NN6 8, NN11 0 to NN11 2, NN11 4, NN11 7 to NN11 9, NN7 4, NN11 3, NN11 6, G64 4, G64 9 and G66 2 November 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
CA7 1 to CA7 4, CA12, CA13, CA14, CA15, LE13, LE14 2, LE14 4, NG32 1, SE5 7 and SE5 8, SE15, LE14 3 and NG13 0 9 November 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
W12 2, W12 6 to W12 9, NW10 6, W12 0, PA11, PA13, PA14, PA15 1 to PA15 4, PA15 9, PA16, PA18 and PA19 23 November 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
SN1, SN2, SN3, SN5 1, SN5 6 and SN5 7, SN25 1, SN25 6, SN26, SN38, SN99, LE8 0, LE8 8 and LE8 9, LE17 6 and SN25 3 to SN25 5 30 November 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
TS24, TS25 1 to TS25 4, TS26, B95 6, B95 8, CV35 0, CV36, CV37 0 and CV37 1, CV37 6 and CV37 7, CV37 9, TS27 3, B95 5, CV35 9. B50, CV37 8, SW6, SW7 1 to SW7 3, SW3, SW5, SW7 4 and SW10 7 December 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
SN4, SN5 0, SN5 3 to SN5 5, SN5 8, SN6 7, SN25 2, TN31 6, TN31 9, TN32, TN33 0, TN34, TN35, TN36, TN37, TN38, SN6 6, TN33 3, TN33 9, TN5, TN19, TN31 7 and TN20 14 December 2016 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
LE16 7, LE16 9, NN17 1, NN17 2, NN17 4, NN18 0, NN18 9, SN6 8, NN18 8, NN6 9, LE16 8, NN17 3, NN17 5, SW7 5, TS25 5, PE8 4 and PE8 5 1 February 2017 Digital (full service expansion) These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

NE6 1 and NE6 2, NE6 5, NE6 3 and NE7

8 February 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

These postcodes are currently part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

WA1, WA2, WA3 4 to WA3 7, WA4, WA5, WA13 0, WA13 9, E3 4 and E3 5, E3 9, E14, SO14, SO15, SO16 2, SO16 4 to SO16 6, SO17, SO18 1, SO18 4, SO18 6, SO18 9, SO19 1 and SO19 2, SO19 4 and SO19 5, SO19 7 to SO19 9, SO18 2 and SO18 3, SO18 5, SO19 0, SO19 6, SO30 0, SO30 3 and SO30 4, SO30 9, SO16 0, SO16 3, SO16 7 to SO16 9, SO30 2, SO40 0, SO40 2 and SO40 3, SO40 8, SO43, E3 2 and E3 3, SO31 4 and SO31 5, and SO31 8

 

22 February 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

CV13 0, LE9 8, LE10, LE9 4 and LE9 7

 

8 March 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

NE4, NE5 1 and NE5 2, NE5 5, NE5 9, NE15 6 and NE15 7, NE15 8 and NE15 9, and NE15 0

 

15 March 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

EH18, EH19, EH20, EH22, EH23, EH24, EH25, EH26 and EH37

 

22 March 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

E1 0 to E1 5, E1 7 and E1 8, EC2N 2, EC2V 8, EC2Y 5, EC3A 1, EC3A 4 and EC3A 5, EC3M 2 and EC3M 3, EC3M 8, EC3N 4, EC3R 6, EC3V 0 and EC3V 1, EC3V 4, EC4M 5 and EC4M 6, EC4M 9, EC4R 2, EC4V 2, E1W, EC2A 1, EC2M 3 to EC2M 7, EC2N 1, EC2N 3 and EC2N 4, EC2R, EC2V 5 to EC2V 7, EC2Y 8 and EC2Y 9, EC3A 2 and EC3A 3, EC3A 6 to EC3A 8, EC3M 1, EC3M 4 to EC3M 7, EC3N 1 to EC3N 3, EC3R 5, EC3R 7 and EC3R 8, EC3V 3, EC3V 9, EC4A, EC4M 7 and EC4M 8, EC4N, EC4R 0 and EC4R 1, EC4R 3, EC4R 9, EC4V 3 to EC4V 6, EC4Y, E1 6, EC2A 2 to EC2A 4, EC2M 1 and EC2M 2

 

29 March 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

CH5 1 to CH5 4, and CH5 9

 

5 April 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

CH6, CH7 1 to CH7 3, CH7 6, CH7 9, CH7 4 and CH8 8

 

12 April 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

BA9, BA10, BA20, BA21 3 and BA21 4, BA22 7 and BA22 8, TA10 9, TA11, TA12, TA13, TA14, TA15, TA16, TA17, TA18 7, TA18 9, BA7, BA8, SP7 0, SP7 7 to SP7 9, SP8 4 and SP8 5, SP8 9, BA21 5, BA22 9, DT9 and TA18 8

 

19 April 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

M35 0, M35 9, OL1 1 to OL1 4, OL1 9, OL2 5 to OL2 8, OL3 5 to OL3 7, OL4 1 to OL4 5, OL8, OL9 and M35 5

 

26 April 2017

Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

MK40, MK41, MK42, MK43 7, MK44 1, MK43 6, MK43 8, CT3 3, CT14, CT15, CT16, CT17, MK43 0, MK43 9, MK44 3, MK45 and MK44 2 3 May 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
DE7 0, DE7 4, DE7 9, NG10 2, NG10 4, NG10 9, NG10 3, DE7 6, DE7 8, DE7 5, NG10 1, NG10 5 and DE72 3 10 May 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
BB10, BB11, BB12 0, BB12 6, BB12 8, BB12 7 and BB12 9 17 May 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
SN11, SN13, SN14 0, SN14 6, SN15, SN16 and SN14 7 24 May 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
BS22, BS23, BS29, BS40 5, BS24, BS25 1, BS25 5, BS26, SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4 5 to SP4 9, SP5 3 and SP5 4, SP4 0, SP5 1 and SP5 2 7 June 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
HD6 1 and HD6 2, HD6 4, HD6 9, HX1, HX2, HX3 0, HX3 5, HX3 7 to HX3 9, HX4 8 and HX4 9, HX5, HX6, HX7, OL14 5 and OL14 6, OL14 9, HD6 3, HX4 0, OL14 7 and OL14 8, and HX3 6 14 June 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
FK7, FK8, FK9, FK10 1 and FK10 2, FK11, FK12, FK13, FK15 5, FK16, FK17, FK18, G63 9, FK20, FK10 3, FK14, FK15 0, FK15 9, FK19 and FK21 28 June 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
IV6, IV7, IV14, IV15, IV16, IV17, IV18, IV19, IV20, IV23, IV24, IV25, IV27, IV28, IV40, IV41, IV42, IV43, IV44, IV45, IV46, IV47, IV48, IV49, IV51, IV52, IV53, IV55, IV56, KW1, KW3, KW5, KW6, KW7, KW8, KW9, KW10, KW11, KW12, KW13, KW14, PH30, PH31, PH33 6 and PH33 7, PH34, PH35, PH36, PH37, PH38, PH39, PH40, PH41, PH42, PH43, PH44, PH49, PH50, S63 0, S63 8, S70, S72 0, S72 7 and S72 8, S73 3, S73 8 and S73 9, DY1, DY2, B62 2, B62 9, B63, DY5 2 to DY5 4, DY6 7 to DY6 9, DY8 1, DY8 3 to DY8 5, DY8 9, DY9 7 and DY9 8, B36, B37, B46 1 and B46 2, B90 2 to B90 4, B90 8 and B90 9, B91, CH8 7, DY6 6, PA80, B46 3, B62 0, B90 1, DY9 0, DY9 9, B62 8, B64, B65 0, B65 8, DY6 0, DY7, DY8 2, S63 3, S63 5, S63 9, S73 0, S74, S72 9 and PH33 9. 5 July 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
BS21, BS48, YO1, YO10, YO23 1, YO24, YO26 0, YO26 4 to YO26 6, YO30 4 to YO30 7, YO31, YO32 2 to YO32 4, YO32 9, BA12, BA13, BA14, BA15, SN8 1, SN8 3 and SN8 4, SN8 9, SN9, SN10, SN12, NP4, NP44, TN39 3, TN40, SO50 0, SO50 4 and SO50 5, SO50 8, SO53 1 and SO53 2, TN39 4 and TN39 5, SN8 2, SO32 1 and SO32 2, SO50 6 and SO50 7, SO50 9, SO51 0 and SO51 1, SO51 5, SO51 7 to SO51 9, SO52, SO53 3 to SO53 5 and SO51 6. 12 July 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
M31, M32, M33 2, M33 4 to M33 7, M41, WA14 1 and WA14 2, WA14 5, WA15 5 and WA15 6, WA15 9, M17 1, M17 8, CH1, CH2, CH3, CH4 7 and CH4 8, CW1, CW2 6 to CW2 8, CW3 0, CW4, CW5, CW10, CW11, WA6, WA14 3 and WA14 4, M33 3, WA15 0, WA15 7 and WA15 8, SS0, SS1, SS2 4, SS9 0 and SS9 1, ST7 2, SY14 8, CT9, CT11 0, CT11 7 to CT11 9, W8, W10 5 and W10 6, W10 9, W11, CT13 0, CT13 9, CM18 6, CM19 4, CM20 1, CM20 3 and CM20 9. 19 July 2017 Digital (full service expansion)

From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

NB - The postcodes in bold were due to enter full service on 19 July, however due to the Grenfell tower fire roll-out of full service has been postponed. These postcodes will now join the full service on 4 October 2017

CT7 9, CT8, CT10, CT11 1, CT12, CT7 0 and CT13 3. 8 September 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
YO19 4 and YO19 5, YO26 7 to YO26 9, YO30 1 and YO30 2, YO32 5, YO61, YO90, YO91, S36 6 to S36 9, S71 1 to S71 3, S71 5, S75 1 to S75 3, S75 6, LS24 0, YO19 6, YO23 2 and YO23 3, YO23 7, S35 5, S35 7, YO41, YO42, S71 4, S75 4 and S75 5. 13 September 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
SS9 2 to SS9 4, SS3 8, CM17, CM18 7, CM19 5, CM20 2, CM21 9, SS2 5 and SS2 6, SS3 0, SS3 9 and SS9 5. 20 September 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.
DY3 2 and DY3 3, DY5 1, B92, B93 3, B93 9, B93 0, B93 8, DY3 4 and DY3 1. 27 September 2017 Digital (full service expansion) From this date these postcodes will become part of the live service. Existing live service claimants will eventually be transferred to the digital full service at some point after the digital go live date.

What are the current plans for further digital roll-out?

Eventually, all live service areas will be replaced by digital (full) service and existing live service UC claimants will be transferred to the digital (full service) service. This has already started in some areas (see table above) and the digital service will continue to roll-out across Great Britain with a completion date of September 2018. Once that process is complete, from mid 2019, DWP will begin migrating all remaining existing benefit claimants to the full UC digital service with a view to completion in 2022. A separate process will be designed for those over state pension age who will move from tax credits to pension credit. However, until that happens, the two systems will run side by side. To further complicate matters, the UC rules are slightly different for digital claimants than for those who are in live service claimants.

UC is planned to roll-out in Northern Ireland from September 2017, you can find more detail in our NI section.

DWP have published details of the Jobcentre areas that will become digital through to September 2018 covering Phases 4 to 6.

What happens to live service claimants who live in areas that become digital?

According to the latest publication from DWP, when a current live service area becomes a digital (full) service area, anyone currently claiming UC through the live service will eventually be migrated over into the digital full service. Originally, DWP announced that this would take place within the first 3 months of the area becoming digital, but our current understanding is that they are only testing the process in a small number of areas.

We will update this page when further information is known about the process that will be used to transfer claimants from live to digital service.

Digital service area legislation and guidance

The conditions for claiming UC in digital areas were introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.20 and Transitory provisions and commencement No.9 and transitional and transitory provisions) (Amendment) Order 2014. This covered the first phase of digital claims in SM5 2 between 26 November 2014 and 20 December 2014.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.21 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2015 took effect for claims in SM5 2 from 28 January 2015.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.23 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2015 extended the number of digital areas starting from 18 March 2015 (See table above).

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.25 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2015 extended the digital areas once again from 2 December 2015 (See table above).

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.26 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions and Commencement No.22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2016 extended the digital areas once again from 27 January 2016 and 24 February 2016.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.27 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions and Commencement No.22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2016 extended the digital areas from 23 March 2016 and 27 April 2016

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.13,14,16,19,22,23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2016 starts the digital full expansion for 25 May 2016, 29 June and 27 July 2016

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No.19,22,23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2016 sets out the digital full expansion for 5, 12, 19 and 26 October 2016, 2, 9 and 23 November 2016 and 7 and 14 December 2016.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 11, 13, 16, 22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2017 (SI.No.57/2017) sets out the digital full expansion for February, March and April 2017.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 19, 22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2017 (SI.No.584/2017) sets out the digital full expansion for May and June 2017.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 29 and Commencement No. 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) Order 2017 (SI.No.664/2017) sets out the digital full expansion between July and September 2017

Two other key pieces of legislation amended the existing UC rules for digital areas:

DWP guidance – Memo ADM 26/14 sets out the changes made by the Digital Service Amendment Regulations.

See also ADM’s 2/15, 8/15, 22/15 1/16, 10/16, 14/16, 23/16 and 1/17 available on GOV.UK.

Who can make a claim for UC in digital service areas?

The majority of people who reside in a digital service area postcode are eligible to make a claim for UC (however they may not necessarily be entitled to UC). If UC is then awarded they become known as a ‘digital service claimant’.

Until 31 October 2018, claimants who are responsible for three or more children will not be able to make a claim for UC unless they:

For this purpose ‘reclaim’ means a claim that is made by a single person or members of a couple jointly and the claimant (or either joint claimant) meets the following conditions:

  1. The claimant was previously entitled to an award of universal credit the last day of which fell within the 6 months preceding the date on which the claim is made; and
     
  2. During that 6 months:

Claimants responsible for three or more children who cannot make a UC claim can claim tax credits and other legacy benefits instead until 31 October 2018. After that date it is expected that these claimants will be able to claim UC, although the Secretary of State has the power to extend this period

There is also an exception to the general rule where a person has provided incorrect information about their postcode. Broadly this means that if the UC claim has been decided and a payment made, the claimant stays in UC even if their postcode is not actually a digital postcode.

Between 26 November 2014 and 9 June 2015, there was also a requirement to meet the ‘specified condition’ in digital service areas. The specified condition was that the claimant was a British Citizen who:

Claims for UC based on incorrect information

Where a claimant gives incorrect information about living in a digital postcode and this is not discovered until after a decision has been made about their UC claim and at least one payment is made then they will remain entitled to UC.

If this incorrect information is discovered before the award of UC is made, the claimant will be informed they are not entitled to UC. If they then make a claim for WTC or CTC within one month of being told they are not entitled to UC, their tax credit claim will be treated as made on the date that the claim for UC was made. Similar rules apply where an award of UC is made but no payment is made. In that case the UC claim ceases to have effect immediately.

What UC rules are different in digital service areas?

As well as having different conditions about who is eligible to claim, the main UC rules are also slightly different to those in live service areas.

The differences outlined here apply to anyone who is designated a ‘digital service claimant’. This is defined by DWP as a person who has become entitled to an award of UC

(a) By reference to residence in a digital area postcode (see table above)

(b) By forming a couple with a claimant who was previously awarded UC when they lived in a relevant district

(c) By forming a couple with a claimant who was awarded UC as in paragraph (b) or

(d) By forming a couple with a claimant who was awarded UC as in paragraph (c)

The differences also apply to any Live Service awards of UC made to:

DWP guidance (ADM 26/14) gives the following example of how this works in practice:

Moira lives in relevant district No.28 (a digital area). She is awarded UC as a single claimant when she becomes unemployed. Moira joins her partner Alex, who is also unemployed and entitled to UC, and lives in relevant district No.20 (a live service area). They are awarded UC as joint claimants. Later, Moira leaves the household and is entitled to UC as a single claimant. Alex is joined by a new partner, Laura, and they are entitled to UC as joint claimants. Moira, Alex and Laura are all digital service claimants.

This means that Alex and Laura become digital service claimants even though they live in a live service area. Alex becomes a digital claimant because of his relationship with Moira (under (b) above). Laura becomes a digital claimant because of her relationship with Alex (under (c). This is likely to cause a great deal of confusion.

There are differences in relation to childcare costs, assessment periods, re-claims and calculation of unearned income. ADM 26/14 explains these differences in more detail. From April 2018 (postponed from April 2016), new rules in relation to surplus earnings and self-employed losses will also apply to digital service claimants as outlined above.

For claimants who move from or to a digital service area see our moving area section.

Claims for tax credits in digital service areas

The general rule is that a person may not make a claim for tax credits (whether or not as part of a couple for tax credits purposes) on any date if, had they made a claim for UC on the same date, they would have been eligible to claim UC. This means that most people living in a digital area postcode will no longer be able to make a claim for tax credits (unless one of the exceptions below applies or they are responsible for three or more children as explained above).

In this context, a claim for tax credits is made on the date on which the claimant takes action under specified legislation which results in a claim being required. It is irrelevant that under TC legislation the claim is made or treated as made on an earlier date.

This means it is the date that HMRC receive the tax credit claim form that is relevant when considering whether the person would have been entitled to UC on that same date. It takes no account of potential backdating which means the normal one month backdating as well as longer backdating for refugees and those who qualify for the disability element (in some cases).

Exceptions to the general rule

There are some exceptions to the general rule:

1. For those who have reached state pension credit age and who live in a digital area, tax credit claims can still be made by:

(a) A person who has reached the qualifying age for state pension credit

(b) A tax credits act couple where both members or one member has reach state pension credit age

(c) Where (a) does not apply, a person who is a member of a State Pension Credit Act couple where the other member of the couple has reached state pension credit age

2. Where a person (or couple) makes a claim for CTC or WTC and on the date that they claim he or she (or they) is or are already entitled to WTC or CTC respectively. This protects existing tax credit claimants, for example a couple who are claiming CTC and want to start work can add WTC to their claim. (See our section on treating people as entitled to tax credits to find out the meaning of the term ‘entitled’ for this purpose.

3. Where a person (or couple) was entitled to tax credits in respect of a tax year and that person (or couple) makes or is treated as making a claim for tax credits for the next tax year. Tax credit claims only last a maximum of one tax year. This exception protects people who renew their claims, which in effect is the same as making a brand new tax credit claim. See our section on treating people as entitled to tax credits to find out the meaning of the term ‘entitled’ for this purpose.

4. From 18 March 2015, the general rule does not apply where the person is prevented from making a claim for Universal Credit. See ADM M3 (M3003). This is where the Secretary of State may determine not to accept any particular claims for UC temporarily in order to safeguard the efficient administration of UC or to ensure the effective testing of systems for the administration of UC. This power was introduced by SI 1626/2014.

The claim process

If a claimant in a digital area makes a claim for tax credits (by sending in a TC600 claim form), HMRC will consider their claim and if they think the person should claim UC instead they will issue a letter TC601U. They will do this where the person lives in a digital area postcode and they (or their partner) have not reached state pension credit age. There will also be a similar process for those with three or more children from 6 April 2017 but we are awaiting further information from HMRC on how this process will work. This letter states that the person does not qualify for tax credits because they live in a postcode where UC must be claimed, however as it is a decision under Section 14 Tax Credits Act 2002, it does carry normal tax credit appeal rights.

Existing tax credit claimants in digital service areas

Existing tax credit claimants are currently unaffected by the roll-out of UC. Their awards of tax credits will continue at present until DWP introduce rules to migrate those people across to UC. DWP current plans are to migrate remaining tax credit claimants to UC from July 2019 to March 2022.

At present, existing tax credit claimants will only be affected if they either choose to move to UC, they have a change that ends their tax credit award or they need to make a claim for another legacy benefit:

Choosing to move to UC

There appears to be nothing stopping an existing tax credits claimant from choosing to claim UC in a digital area (unless they are responsible for three or more children and none of the exceptions above applies). If an existing tax credit claimant makes a claim for UC and DWP believe they meet the basic conditions for UC (except for the claimant commitment), their tax credits award will end automatically. It is therefore important that claimants do not make a mistake and try and claim UC – if they do then our understanding is that their tax credits award will be terminated automatically and they will not be able to re-claim tax credits because they live in a digital area. See our tax credits and UC section for more information.

Although the legislation works in such a way as to bring a tax credits award to an end when a UC claim is made, and the process between DWP and HMRC is such that there should be notification to HMRC to end the tax credits claim, we would advise that claimants report the situation to HMRC in case the process breaks down.

Tax credit claimants will need to seek advice from a welfare rights specialist before deciding to make a claim to UC. Some people will be better off under UC than existing legacy benefits, but many people will be worse off financially and UC claimants are subject to conditionality rules that tax credits claimants are not.

As a general rule you cannot be entitled to tax credits and UC at the same time. The only exception to this is during the first assessment period for UC after two people become a couple and the tax credit award of the ‘new claimant partner’ terminates after the first date of entitlement to UC. This is because in such a case UC rules may treat the claim as made at an earlier date than the TC termination date.

In this situation, if a claim for UC is made (or is treated as having been made) and the person (or persons) meet the basic conditions for UC (except for the claimant commitment requirement) then all awards of tax credits for which there is entitlement (on the date of the UC claim) will terminate on:

This will be the case even if under Tax Credits legislation the award would terminate on a later day. See our section on treating people as making a tax credits claim for situations where someone would treated as entitled to tax credits under UC legislation.

Moving to UC due to a change of circumstances ending a tax credit claim

Where a tax credit claim ends because of a change of circumstances – for example a couple separating or a single person forming a couple or a WTC only claimant who loses their job, then in order to continue receiving support, they will need to claim UC unless one of the exceptions above applies.

Where a single tax credit claimant (the new claimant partner for UC purposes) forms a couple with an existing UC claimant, the new claimant partner will have their tax credit award terminated for the current tax year on:

Moving to UC due to claiming another legacy benefit

If an existing tax credit claimant in a digital postcode has a change of circumstances that means they need to make a claim for income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support or housing benefit then they will need to claim UC instead because those benefits are no longer available in digital postcode areas. This means that their tax credits award will come to end automatically once they have submitted a claim UC and DWP are satisfied they meet the basic conditions for UC.

Examples of situations where this may happen include:

Withdrawal of cash cheques in tax credits and child benefit from 31 March 2017

Tax credits - HMRC digital services

Tax Credits: Contacting HMRC about tax credits

This section of the site gives you information about the different ways of contacting HMRC about tax credits. It also gives information about security procedures in place when contacting the tax credits helpline. 

Contacting HMRC


Tax credit digital services

HMRC are gradually introducing changes which are line with the Government’s drive for increased digital services.

HMRC have an on-line service called the Personal Tax Account for all individuals to be able to transact with them digitally. The personal tax account is continually being developed and covers a variety of services provided right across HMRC lines of business, covering income tax, tax payments, self-assessment returns and it also includes the tax credit on-line service. The tax credit on-line service is called ‘Manage your tax credits’ and can be accessed either directly from Manage your tax credits, or via the personal tax account by following the links to the tax credit part of the personal tax account.

Claimants can manage their tax credits online through GOV.UK www.gov.uk/manage-your-tax-credits. Here they can report most changes of circumstances, find out how much their next payment will be and when it's due, and complete their renewal after they receive their renewal pack. Once they have completed their renewal declaration, claimants can also check the progress of their renewal.

To use this service, tax credit claimants need to register with the Government Gateway service. Claimants can use their existing account if they already use Government Gateway for self-assessment, others will need to set up a Government Gateway account. Each time a person uses their Government Gateway account, they will need to have a mobile phone or landline telephone nearby to receive a unique 6-digit code which will be sent automatically to them as they ‘log-in’. The service is accessed via GOV.UK.

This service is available via the GOV.UK website. It offers people the chance to chat to an HMRC adviser via the website, either on general matters or specific to a tax credit award.

Webchat can be accessed via the GOV.UK contact page. Also where a person is using the ‘Manage your tax credits’ service, and so has been through security steps, webchat is also available to deal with matters specific to their claim. An option to use the webchat service will automatically appear after a short while.

Webchat is generally available, although not 24 hours a day and is reliant on HMRC advisers being available.

The HMRC App is available for people who have a compatible smart phone (android and I-phone). It is free to download from the ‘app store’ and provides a variety of digital services across HMRC lines of business. Tax credit claimants can check the amount and due date of their next payment using the App, and they can notify most changes of circumstances and complete their tax credit renewals.

Claimants can use fingerprint identification available on certain devices to enable them to access the App. HMRC does not receive or have access to any fingerprint data, the app makes use of features that are built into the user’s handset.

Telephone

The main telephone number is the tax credit helpline: 0345 300 3900 (textphone 0345 300 3909). From abroad, you can ring +44 2890 538 192. The helpline is open 8am-8pm, Mondays to Fridays, 8am-4pm on Saturdays and 9am -5pm on Sundays  (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).

The telephone line is very busy and HMRC say the best times to call are between 8.30 am and 10.30 am and 2pm to 4pm, Tuesdays to Thursdays.

HMRC use an automated response system to direct callers to the helpline (sometimes referred to as ITA). This is designed to help direct callers to relevant information on the GOV.UK website, provide basic generic messages which may help answer some queries and direct the call to an adviser who can help with the call query. The system relies on speech recognition and LITRG have produced a helpful guide to offer some useful hints and tips on using this system (please note the e-mail options to notify changes of name/address are not currently relevant for tax credits).

From January 2017, some callers to the helpline will be able to sign-up for Voice ID. The claimant will be required to say a phrase five times to register for the service and when they call in future, they can be verified based on their voice. See our blog post for further information.

This number can be used to: 

Advisers who are from registered organisations can use the intermediaries helpline as an alternative to the helpline for a similar range of issues. More information can be found in our intermediaries section.

By post

New claims should be sent to:

HMRC - Tax Credit Office
Liverpool
L75 1AZ

Renewal forms should be sent to:

HMRC - Tax Credit Office
Comben House
Farriers Way
Netherton
L75 1AX

Claimants can report changes via the tax credit helpline (details above). Changes can also be reported in writing to:

Change of circumstances
HMRC - Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER

More information about reporting changes can be found in our how to notify changes section.

Disputes can be sent in writing to the following address marked for the attention of the ‘dispute team’.

Disputes
HMRC – Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER

Complaints
HMRC - Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER

Once a dispute or complaint is received by HMRC, a letter should be sent acknowledging receipt and giving the claimant a named caseworker and direct dial number.

Appeals
HMRC – Tax credit Office
BX9 1ER

HMRC – Tax Credit Office
Preston
PR1 4AT

Face to face advice

Historically, HMRC had enquiry centres that claimants were able to visit, albeit they were advised to arrange an appointment first.

In March 2012, HMRC announced that they would replace their Enquiry Centre network with a new system of support for taxpayers and tax credits claimants who need extra help with their tax affairs. Following a pilot in the North East of England to test the new approach, which included closing several Enquiry Centres, HMRC decided that the benefits of the new service offered a better system of support for customers. The new service was rolled out across the UK at the end of May 2014, with a programme of closure seeing the remaining Enquiry Centres all closed by 30 June 2014. You can read HMRC’s briefing note on the GOV.UK website.

The service means that the telephone helplines are the initial way that customers can speak to HMRC. Customers who are identified as needing extra help (according to criteria HMRC have developed) will then be offered support best suited to them, this might still be by phone, but with a specialist telephone adviser who can deal with the queries in-depth or by arranging a set time to call or perhaps a face to face meeting with someone from HMRC at a place convenient to the customer, calling on a team of HMRC specialist mobile advisers. More information can be found here.

Claimants with disabilities may need face to face advice by way of home visit. Following the closure of HMRC enquiry centres, claimants who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment and are unable to use the telephone can use an online form to request a face to face appointment.

Claimants with disabilities

For those who have disabilities, effectively communicating with HMRC can be difficult. At present, no central computer system records special needs that a claimant might have, therefore reference should be made in all communications of any specific needs that HMRC should be aware of.

HMRC do provide special services for those with particular needs. A full list of all services is published on GOV.UK.

HMRC’s improved digital services, which are also optimised for people who use screen readers, may offer a more suitable alternative for some.

Claimants with disabilities may need face to face advice by way of home visit. Following the closure of HMRC enquiry centres, claimants who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment and are unable to use the telephone can use an online form to request a face to face appointment.

Translation services

HMRC offer translation services to those whose first language isn’t English.

According to their information:

'HMRC will allow a friend or family member to interpret for customers who don't speak English as a first language. When you contact one of HMRC's helplines they will ask you if you have a friend or family member who is willing to interpret for you and if you are happy for them to do so. This friend or family member needs to be over 16 years of age and should be with you when you call HMRC.

If you do not have or do not wish to use a friend or family member, HMRC offers a free language interpretation service. You can use this service when you telephone HMRC or when you come in to an HMRC Enquiry Centre. You can contact one of our helplines or your Tax Office and they will arrange this service, but please give them as much notice as possible.'

Useful tips when contacting HMRC

When dealing with overpayments, issues often arise about whether a claimant has reported a particular change or whether they have been given incorrect advice by HMRC. It is much easier to dispute an overpayment if the claimant has evidence of their contacts with the department. We recommend that claimants:

Security arrangements

In late 2009, HMRC introduced a new security process on the tax credit helpline called IDAS (ID Authentication Service). All claimants who contact the tax credit helpline will be asked to go through the new security. This includes people contacting the helpline to request claim forms.

How does IDAS work?

IDAS uses information held by credit reference agency Experian, combined with HMRC’s own data to verify the callers identity.

The first time a claimant calls, they will be asked whether they consent to HMRC using Experian data. HMRC will need the claimants NINO, DOB and name at this point. If the claimant agrees to this, they will be asked questions based on the Experian data. The helpline advisers cannot see a full credit report, they will be prompted by the system with only certain questions based on that credit report. Questions will be things like ‘Who is your mobile phone contract with?’.

If the claimant does not consent, or there is not enough data from Experian to generate these questions, the claimant will be asked questions based on HMRC information drawn from various sources.

Once this process has been successfully passed, the claimant will be asked to set up some shared secrets which will be used to identify them on subsequent calls. If the claimant declines to set up shared secrets they will need to go through the whole process again on their next call.

What if a claimant fails IDAS or the process cannot be completed?

Representatives from the Benefits and Credits Consultation Group (BCCG) have reported instances of claimants being told that the process cannot be completed where there is not enough data to generate the questions.

In other cases, claimants have been asked difficult questions that they have not been able to answer.

In both circumstances, the helpline will advise the claimant that they must have a face to face meeting and provide documentation to prove their identity. Only once this process has been completed will HMRC allow the claimant to transact over the phone.

The helpline should make arrangements with the Needs Enhanced Support (NES) team and the claimant should receive a call from that team within 48 hours to make an appointment and advise what documentary evidence is needed. Claimants who are requesting claim forms should get an appointment within 5 days.

If the claimant provides this documentary evidence, the NES adviser should set up the shared secrets in the same way as the helpline.

How does IDAS affect intermediaries?

Intermediaries should not be asked to go through the IDAS process. It is for claimants only. The normal security questions for intermediaries (based on the TC689) and agents (64-8) should continue to be used.

If an intermediary does not have an authority in place, but has the claimant with them, the helpline will ask the claimant to go through the IDAS process. Once the security check is passed, the claimant can ask the helpline adviser to speak directly to the intermediary.

Tax credit helpline now open on Sundays

Alert - Child Trust Fund

Tax-Free Childcare: Statutory instruments

In this section you will find statutory instruments relating to Tax-Free Childcare in their original form.  

Main tax-free childcare regulations

Childcare Payments (Eligibility) Regulations 2015 (SI.No.448/2015)

Childcare Payments Regulations 2015 (SI.No.522/2015)

Childcare Payments (Appeals) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.1078/2016)

Up-rating and amending regulations

Childcare Payments Act 2014 (Commencement No. 4) Regulations 2017 (SI.No.750/2017)

Tax Credits (Claims and Notifications) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI.No.597/2017)

Childcare Payments Act 2014 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2017 (SI.No.578/2017)

Childcare Payments Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.1083/2016)

Childcare Payments (Eligibility) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.1021/2016)

Childcare Payments (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.1017/2016)

Childcare Payments (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.796/2016)

Childcare Payments (Eligibility) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.793/2016)

Childcare Payments Act 2014 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2016 (SI.No.763/2016)

Tax Credits (Claims and Notifications) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI.No.669/2015)

Childcare Payments Act 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI.No.537/2015)

Tax Credits: Statutes - Consolidated

With thanks to LexisNexis and Tolley Tax Intelligence for sharing their consolidated tax credit legislation with us.

Tax Credits Act 2002 -

Welfare Reform Act 2012 -

Tax Credits: Statutory instruments – Consolidated – Alphabetical

The consolidated legislation includes footnotes indicating amendments to legislation; cross-references; definitions; and additional helpful material including HMRC briefs and cross-references to HMRC’s internal guidance manuals.

They are displayed here alphabetically, but you can also view them chronologically.

Tax Credits: Statutory instruments – Consolidated – Chronological

The consolidated legislation includes footnotes indicating amendments to legislation; cross-references; definitions; and additional helpful material including HMRC briefs and cross-references to HMRC’s internal guidance manuals.

They are displayed here in chronological order, but you can also view the regulations alphabetically.

Tax credit and child benefit appeals – HMRC change their letterhead and contact details

Child Tax Credit – backdating the disability and severe disability rates to April 2016

Tax Credits: Rates and tables

Tax credits annual and daily rates

DWP benefit rates

Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance: Rates and tables

Child benefit

Child benefit rates are usually updated yearly in April. The rates are weekly amounts.

 

Only / eldest child or
qualifying young person

Any subsequent child
or qualifying young person

2017/2018

£20.70

£13.70

2016/2017

£20.70

£13.70

2015/2016

£20.70

£13.70

2014/2015

£20.50

£13.55

2013/2014

£20.30

£13.40

2012/2013

£20.30

£13.40

2011/2012

£20.30

£13.40

2010/2011

£20.30

£13.40

2009/2010

£20.00

£13.20

2008/2009

£18.80/£20.00*

£12.55/£13.20*

2007/2008

£18.10

£12.10

2006/2007

£17.45

£11.70

2005/2006

£17.00

£11.40

2004/2005

£16.50

£11.05

* - from 5 January 2009.

Guardian's allowance

The weekly rate of guardian's allowance is per child and in addition to child benefit.

 

 Weekly rate

2017/2018

£16.70
2016/2017 £16.55

2015/2016

£16.55

2014/2015

£16.35

2013/2014

£15.90

2012/2013

£15.55*

2011/2012

£14.75*

2010/2011

£14.30

2009/2010

£14.10

2008/2009

£13.45

2007/2008

£12.95

2006/2007

£12.50

2005/2006

£12.20

2004/2005

£11.85

*- the increase in the 2011/12 and 2012/2013 rate of guardian's allowance does not apply to payments being made to a person living abroad. See SI.No.1039/2011 and SI.No.845/2012 for details.

The 2017/2018 child benefit and guardian's allowance rates were issued on 23 November 2016 alongside the 2016 Autumn Statement.

Changes to HMRC intermediaries line

Tax Credits: Calculating tax credits income

This section of the site explains about how to calculate income for tax credit claims. It's important to note that where a claimant has their tax credits terminated because they are moving to universal credit, there are new rules on how to calculate income in those cases. Please see our universal credit section for more information.

Unlike most social security benefits, for tax credits the gross income is used (i.e. before tax and national insurance contributions are deducted).

This will sometimes necessitate a calculation to add the tax back to income which is received, or deductions from income which are paid, net. This is shown in the example below.

Example

James and Jemima have the following sources of income for 2015/16.

 

£

James’s salary

16,000

Profits from Jemima’s business

18,000

Army disability pension*

2,300

Net bank savings interest (joint)

760

ISA dividend (joint)*

140

Rental income/profit (joint) **

 3,500

Total

40,700


James paid a net amount of £2,305 into a stakeholder pension, and he and Jemima jointly made gift aid donations of £702 net.

Their initial 2016/17 tax credits award will be based on their joint income for 2015/16 (as above) and is calculated as follows.

Step 1

Investment income (bank savings)

£

£760 x 100/80***

950

Property income

3,500

Sub-total

4,450

Less disregard

-  (300)

Total

4,150


Step 2

Employment income (James)

16,000


Step 3

Total of steps 1 and 2

20,150


Step 4

Add trading income (Jemima)

18,000

Total

38,150


Less deductions

Pension contributions (James) grossed up****:

£2,305
x 100/80

2,881

Gift aid donations grossed up****:

£702
x 100/80

878

Total deductions

 

- (3,759)

Total joint tax credits income

 

34,391


*Both Jemima’s army disability pension and the joint ISA dividend are disregarded for tax credits purposes.

**This is rental income from a property James and Jemima do not live in and is, therefore, not eligible for rent-a-room relief. See our property income section for changes to the rules for residential landlords from April 2017.

*** A gross income figure is used for tax credits, i.e. before tax and national insurance contributions are deducted. Income from savings is paid net, after deduction of basic rate tax at 20%. To arrive at the gross amount, apply the fraction 100/80 to the net payment.

****Similarly, pension contributions and gift aid payments are made net by the contributor or donor and the amount needs to be ‘grossed up’ at the basic rate of 20%.

Pension contributions and Gift Aid Payments

The gross amount of pension contributions to an approved pension scheme and of authorised Gift Aid payments should be deducted from the gross income figure.

For pension contributions, it is important to check how the contributions are paid, as referring simply to the ‘grossed-up’ amount can be misleading.

Where pension contributions are paid out of net income (i.e. out of income after tax and national insurance contributions are deducted), then the pension contributions should be grossed-up and deducted from the claimants taxable income figure.

Where pension contributions are paid out of gross income (i.e. before any tax or national insurance contributions are deducted), then no adjustment or ‘grossing-up’ is needed because relief has already been given for the pension contributions when calculating the person’s taxable income.

Example

The following shows how this works in practice. Tax credits require the person to declare the taxable income less 100% of any pension contributions.

Person 2 will have a P60 that will show £16,800 (which is £18000 minus £100 x 12 pension contributions) and so they need make no adjustments for their pension contributions.

Person 3 will have a P60 showing taxable pay of £18,000. They can deduct their pension contributions. In this case the £80 a month is grossed up to take account of the tax relief of 20% that is added to the pension fund via tax relief from HMRC. This means the person can deduct a £100 x 12 = 1,200 and declare £16,800 to HMRC.

The result is that both people with pension contributions end up having their tax credits based on the same figure. Without the adjustment made by Person 3, this would not happen.

 

Person 1 – No pension

Person 2 – Occupational pension

Person 3 – defined pension contribution scheme through employer

Pension deduction type

None

Deducted from gross pay before tax and NI are deducted

Deducted from net pay (after tax and NI are deducted)

 

Annual salary

£18,000

£18,000

£18,000

Gross pay per month

£1500

£1500

£1500

 

Less personal allowance

£(916.66)

£(916.66)

£(916.66)

Less pension contribution from gross pay

0

£(100.00)

0

Pay on which tax is due

£583.34

£483.34

£583.34

Tax due

£(116.66)

£(96.66)

£(116.66)

NI due

£(109.99)

£(109.99)

£(109.99)

Less pension contribution from net pay

0

0

£(80.00)

(The scheme claim 20% tax relief from HMRC - £20 making a total into the pension pot of £100)

Net income

£1,273.35

£1,193.35

£1,193.35

 

 

 

 

Income to declare to tax credits

£18,000

£16,800

£16,800

(2016-17 rates and allowances)

Specific income categories

The guidance notes provided by HMRC follow the claim form TC600 and show the claimant the information to include when making a claim.