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Children and childcare

If you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person (QYP) that normally lives with you, you'll receive a child element as part of your claim and may be entitled to help with childcare costs.

The amount you'll receive depends on when your child was born and whether they are your eldest. If your child is disabled you may be entitled to a disabled child addition. Due to the two child cap, you'll only receive the child element for a maximum two children unless they were born before 6th April 2017 or an exception applies.

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Key points:

  • The child element of UC does not replace child benefit. Child benefit will continue to be paid to you separately.

  • It is important to report any children as part of your claim even if you won't receive child element for them, as it can change your housing element, work commitments and entitle you to help with childcare.

  • Like all elements on UC, the child element can be reduced by earnings and other income. On UC deductions are made from your total award, not a specific element.

  • You can still claim child benefit for any relevant children regardless of two child cap.

  • You can still be entitled to any disabled child element for a child regardless of two child cap.

  • You will still be able to claim any relevant childcare costs, even when an additional amount is not included for the child due to the two child cap.

  • The two child cap does not restrict your entitlement to any passported benefits, for example, free school meals.

Who is responsible for a child?

To include a child on your claim you need to have main responsibility to the child. This will usually be if the child lives with you most of the time but not in all circumstances.
If the child lives in two households you can decide who should claim for that child. If you cannot agree then a Universal Credit Decision Maker will decide based on evidence submitted regarding caring responsibility. A child can only be included on one Universal Credit claim.

When an amount will usually be included.
Universal Credit will include an amount for any child born before 6th April 2017.

Due to the two child cap, you can only get an extra amount for any children born on or after 6th April 2017 if any of the following are true:


When an amount for a child will not be included in your payment.
The additional amount for children will not be paid if the child or QYP is:

  • in prison

  • the third or subsequent child in a household born on or after 6 April 2017 unless an exception applies (exceptions to the two child cap

  • looked after by a local authority 

  • temporarily absent from the household for 6 months or more

  • absent from Great Britain for 1 month or more (this can be extended for a further month if the absence is due to the death of a close relative of the child or QYP)

  • living outside the UK

  • no longer part of the benefit unit

  • aged 16 and not in full-time non-advanced education

  • currently part of someone else’s benefit claim for Child Tax Credits or Universal Credit

Having your child or qualifying young person verified
When Universal Credit need to verify the children on your claim, they will usually use the child benefit system. For this reason, it can be helpful to make sure that the names and address on your Child Benefit claim are up to date – you do not need to be in receipt of child benefit to claim for a child. If Universal Credit are unable to verify your child via Child Benefit then they will ask for alternative documents.


Reporting changes

You must inform Universal Credit of any changes to the children or QYP living with you.

This includes:

  • children moving in or out of your home.

  • your child continuing in fulltime non-advanced education or approved training after the age of 16 (if you don't report this, you may not continue to receive the child element or disabled child element of UC for this child).

If your child is no longer enrolled on full-time, non-advanced education or approved training, the child element for them will stop immediately.

Key points
Who can include a child
Can be included
Can't be included
Verifying child
Reporting changes
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