Proper guidance needed for
families affected by new welfare cuts for 3rd and subsequent children
THE Government must give better and
fuller guidance to Tax Credit and other benefit claimants about the
circumstances in which they may still claim the child element of Child Tax
Credit or Universal Credit for 3rd or subsequent child born on or after 6
April 2017, says the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG).
Previously announced changes to Tax Credit s, Universal Credit and some other
benefits which limit payment of the child element to no more than two children
come into effect on 6 April 2017. For Child Tax Credit , the limit only applies
to children born on or after 6 April 2017 which means a child element will be
included for all children born before the 6 April 2017. The disability element
of Child Tax Credit, the childcare element of working Tax Credit and Child
Benefit are unaffected by the limit.
There are a number of exceptions to the main rule allowing child element to be
included for 3rd or subsequent children born on or after 6 April 2017.
Exceptions exist for children born in multiple births, adopted children,
non parental care arrangements and what the Government call:- 'non consensual
conception', more commonly referred to as the rape exception.
HMRC has not fully amended its claim form or notes to allow people to claim the
exceptions or to explain the conditions relating to each exception, instead
directing people to GOV.UK
website to search out information about the exceptions and
steps needed to claim them. In cases involving non consensual conception, it
seems claimants will be required to approach approved 3rd parties to provide
supporting evidence before they can receive their payments, unless the case has
been to court and for those cases involving care arrangements, although not
legislated for, a similar 3rd party evidence model is emerging.
Anthony Thomas, Chairman of LITRG, said:- "The Government's argument is
that families should think carefully about whether they are financially prepared
to support a new child without relying on Tax Credits or Universal Credit
The policy in itself polarises opinion, popular in principle with some and a
very bad idea to others. What really concerns us at the present is how the new
rules are being implemented and how claimants can properly access the support
they are entitled to. We are not convinced that families will be aware of the
various exceptions or what to do if an exception does apply.
The policy itself is complicated and HMRC has not left enough time to implement
it properly. At the very least, such a big change should be supported by fully
updated forms, notices and guidance.
The introduction of this policy has also complicated the roll out of Universal
Credit by diverting most claimants who are responsible for three or more
children back to Tax Credits; and at the same time the policy has been
introduced into Universal Credit under interim rules, with full rules expected
to be in force from November 2018.
This has created unnecessary complexity and is likely to lead to a great deal of
confusion for claimants not only in respect of support for their children, but
also around which benefit that support will come from."
In our Office at Southport Reporter we have also been asked if
the new rule will affect those who have lost a child and had a 3rd child since.
This has not been addressed as far as we can see and we are asking for
clarification as to what would happen under those circumstances. We are keen to
hear from anyone who has been affected by these changes and also anyone who has
benefited. Please email your thoughts and views us to:-