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Number of children

We need to know the number of children you have in order to calculate your entitlement to Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit and the Child element of Universal Credit. It also helps us work out your bedroom entitlement for calculating help with housing costs.

In general the rules in benefits and tax credits follow the rules in Child Benefit. So if you (or your partner) are already claiming Child Benefit for a child then you should include them in the calculator. 

The one exception where the rules don't follow Child Benefit entitlement is for the Universal Credit child element if your child is aged 19 and in approved training or non-advanced education. Please see the rules below for children aged between 16 and 20.

If you are wondering whether to include a child not yet born/adopted see Children born/adopted recently or expected

Children aged between 16 and 20

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit can include an amount for a 16-19 year old as your dependent child if they count as a ‘Qualifying Young Person’. Only include a 16-19 as a child in the calculator if they are covered by the rules below. 

Young people in higher education (higher than GCSE, A level, SCE higher level or NVQ/SVQ level 3) do not count as a 'Qualifying Young Person' for Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit. If your child is not a qualifying young person you should include them as another adult in the household by saying 'yes' to 'Does anyone else live in your home?'

A 'Qualifying Young Person' for Child Tax Credit is someone who is:

  • 16 years old until the 31 August following their 16th birthday, or
  • 16 or 17 years old who is registered for work, education or training in certain circumstances
  • Under 20 years and in full-time non-advanced education or approved training, so long as this commenced before the age of 19. 

A 'Qualifying Young Person' for Universal Credit child element is someone who has reached the age of 16 but not 20, up to but not including:

  • the 1 September following their 16th birthday; or
  • the 1 September following their 19th birthday, if they are enrolled on, or accepted for, approved training or a course of non-advanced education

Where the young person is aged 19, they must have started the education or training or been enrolled on or accepted for it before reaching that age.

IMPORTANT: If you are claiming Universal Credit and have a 19 year old in approved training or non-advanced education, you should still include them as a dependant child in the calculator and we will work out if a child element should be included for them in Universal Credit or not. You can still receive Child Benefit for them until they turn 20 and they will still count as a child for Council Tax Support for as long as you are receiving Child Benefit.

Shared custody

If you share custody of a child it is the person with 'main responsibility' who is normally eligible to claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit or the Universal Credit child element for that child.

When deciding who has main responsibility for a child, the number of days the child lives with you is important (the 'normally living with' test). However this is not the only factor considered. For Child Tax Credit the 'normally living with' test can be considered on a more flexible basis than for Child Benefit. See HM Revenue and Customs advice on shared responsibility.

Care and adoption

If you have a child who is in care or you are caring for or adopting a child, then special rules apply to both Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. You should ask HM Revenue and Customs how the rules affect you.

If you are fostering a child you do not get Child Benefit for do not include them as a child in the calculator, you can enter any fostering allowance you receive on the net income page although this is ignored when calculating benefits. 

Rules in out-of-work benefits

You can no longer make a new claim for means-tested out-of-work benefits (Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowance). If you are already receiving one of these benefits the calculator works out entitlement on an ‘adult-only’ basis. If you get child additions in your out-of-work benefit see child additions in Income Support and JSA