What happens to my Tax Credits or Universal Credit if I have more than two children?
Can I get extra Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit if I have more than two children?
If you are responsible for a child born on or after 6 April 2017, and you get Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for two or more other children, you may not get any extra for that child. This only affects the child element of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit. It doesn’t affect Child Benefit, amounts for disabled children or childcare (but the amount you get for childcare doesn’t go up if you have more than two children in childcare). It does mean that most people don’t get any extra Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for a third or subsequent (additional) child.
These rules mean that you won’t get a child element of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017, unless the child is covered by one of the exceptions. This means that usually, your benefit won’t go up once you have two or more children and you have another child.
What if I already have more than two children?
If you already have three or more children all born before 6 April 2017, then if you need to claim benefits, you’ll get help for all your children. However, if your third child, or any other younger children, were born after 6 April 2017, you won’t get extra money for them. You should still tell Universal Credit or HMRC about all the children you have.
What if I already have two or more children and I’m expecting another baby?
You will not get extra help in tax credits or Universal Credit for a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017 unless the exceptions apply (see below). However, you can still get some help (but not a child element) if the baby is entitled to Disability Living Allowance, or if you need to claim help with childcare costs (but you don’t get more help with childcare costs whether you pay for two children in childcare or more than two). You’ll also be able to claim Child Benefit for your new baby.
What if I’m not getting benefit for my third or youngest child but then I stop getting benefit for an older child?
If you have a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017 but you can’t claim benefit for an older child any longer (for example because of their age and/or because they’ve left school or college), so you’re only getting a child element for one child, then you can get a child element for the third/subsequent child (so you get two child elements in total). This might apply if one of your older children leaves home, or is over 16 and no longer in full-time non-advanced education.
What are the exceptions where I can get extra money for a third or additional child?
The exceptions cover:
- Multiple births – If you already have one child or no children, you will get a child element for all the children in a multiple birth which happens on or after 6 April 2017; if you have two or more children already, you will not get a child element for the first child of the multiple birth, but you will for the others.
- Adoptions – You can get a child element for any children adopted under UK law, as long as you are not their step-parent beforehand, or were ever their legal parent other than by adoption. These children don’t count towards the two child limit, so you can also get a child element for at least two other children.
- Young parents – You can get a child element for a child born to a child or young person for whom you are responsible, even if you already have more than one child. These children don’t count towards the two child limit, so you can also get a child element for at least two other children.
- Kinship care – You can get a child element for any children for whom you get Guardian’s Allowance, or who are living with you under a court order, or because they would otherwise be likely to be looked after by a local authority. You must not be their parent or step-parent. These children don’t count towards the two child limit, so you can also get a child element for at least two other children.
- Non-consensual conception – You can get a child element for a third or subsequent child if the child was conceived in circumstances to which you did not agree by choice, or weren’t able to agree to. You must not be living at the same address as the other parent. Circumstances where you weren’t able to agree could include a relationship which involved controlling behaviour which caused you serious harm or distress, or put you in fear of violence. HMRC or the DWP will make a decision about this based on evidence from an approved person or where there has been a criminal conviction or a criminal injuries award.
What can I claim if I can’t get extra child element for a child?
You can still claim Child Benefit for a third child. If the child gets Disability Living Allowance (which is usually not possible for a very young baby), then you’ll be able to get extra amounts of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit to reflect the DLA award (you still don’t get the child element though). If you pay for registered childcare, all the childcare costs you have for children under 15, or under 16 if they are disabled, can be included in your Working Tax Credit award. In Universal Credit, you may be able to get help with childcare costs for children up to the September after their 16th birthday, if the childcare is registered and you meet the working conditions. However, the amount of help you can get for childcare in Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit is capped and it doesn’t increase if you have more than two children in childcare.
Having another child can also make a different to the amount of help you get with your rent (through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit).
Remember that it is always important to tell Universal Credit or HMRC about a third or additional child because it can make a different to your benefit claim even if you can’t get extra money for them.
This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details. If you are in Northern Ireland you can visit the Labour Relations Agency or call their helpline Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300.
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.
The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.
We cannot provide advice on employment rights in Northern Ireland as the law is different. You can visit the Labour Relations Agency or call their helpline Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300.