HMRC - Personal Tax Account access - IT maintenance

New universal credit flexibilities now available in Scotland

Universal credit full service roll-out continues – 4 October 2017

Further roll-out of universal credit full service

Further postponement of Universal Credit in North Kensington

Universal credit full service roll-out continues - 27 September 2017

Universal Credit statistics

Universal Credit roll-out starts in Northern Ireland

Universal credit full service roll-out continues - 20 September 2017

HMRC research about transition from tax credits to universal credit

Universal credit full service roll-out continues - 13 September 2017

Universal credit full service roll-out continues - 6 September 2017

Tax credits penalties - Upper Tribunal Decision

Reminder for people claiming CTC /Child Benefit for children aged 16 and over

CPAG wins Upper Tribunal case on late MR refusals by DWP

Treasury Select Committee Chair writes to HMRC about online childcare system

Tax credits notional entitlement and UC - An update

Tax Credits - Emergency Payments

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

UC started to roll out in Northern Ireland from September 2017 and the roll-out is expected to be completed by September 2018.

Claimants living in Northern Ireland in postcode areas that have not entered the UC service will continue to claim legacy benefits, including tax credits.                                    

The current roll-out is planned as follows:

Date Office  Postcode areas
27 September 2017 Limavady List of postcodes entering UC from 27 September 2017
15 November 2017 Ballymoney  
13 December 2017

Magherafelt and Coleraine

 
17 January 2018

Strabane and Lisnagelvin

 
7 February 2018

Foyle and Armagh

 
21 February 2018

Omagh and Enniskillen

 
7 March 2018

Dungannon and Portadown

 
18 April 2018

Banbridge and Lurgan

 
2 May 2018

Kilkeel, Downpatrick and Newry

 
16 May 2018

Bangor, Newtownards and Holywood Road

 
30 May 2018

Knockbreda, Newtownabbey and Shankill

 
13 June 2018

Corporation Street, Falls and Andersonstown

 
27 June 2018

Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn and Larne

 
4 July 2018

Carrickfergus, Antrim and Ballymena

 
July - Sept 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 already 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:

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 2018. We will add further detail once it is available.

If a claimant is already receiving a welfare supplementary payment, because they have been impacted by a previous welfare change and they then move to UC, they will still receive their WSP as long as their circumstances and eligibility have not changed.

WSP will also be available for UC claimants who may, at a later date, be affected by the Benefit Cap, Social Sector Size Criteria, loss of carer payment or loss of contribution based ESA as a result of welfare changes. If eligible to receive these payments, they should be paid automatically without needing an application. These payments are available until 31 March 2020 and in some cases will be limited to 1 year.

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