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Child Benefit

Volume 468: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what mechanisms exist to ensure that child benefit payments are made only to claimants with a legitimate claim; and if he will make a statement. (164712)

The conditions of entitlement to child benefit are laid down by legislation. Associated statutory rules provide the basis for deciding who is to be treated as entitled where more than one person claims child benefit in respect of the same child for the same week. Inquiries are made of the claimants in such cases before any decision is made. Where there are inconsistencies in the evidence presented by either claimant, verification may be sought from third parties.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the effectiveness of the current system for allocation and payment of child benefit in circumstances where multiple claimants are unable to agree who should receive payment; and if he will make a statement. (164714)

Child benefit is awarded to the person with the main responsibility for a child. Parents may choose which of them will receive the payments, and if no agreement is reached, HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for determining entitlement, based on the facts in individual cases. There is no provision for splitting child benefit and child tax credit, although in families with two or more children, parents can agree to each claim in respect of different children.

To meet the Government’s child poverty target, it is necessary to focus financial support in a way that enables the parent with main caring responsibilities to provide for the child’s needs. The Government will continue to listen to parents and representative groups regarding the best way to support families with children.