How many children can you claim benefits for?

How many children can you claim benefits for?

Since 6 April 2017 some benefits are now only being paid for up to two children per family. You may be concerned about what this means for you but not every family will be affected.

Here are examples of some of the questions we’ve been asked on the Lone Parent Helpline. Call us on 0808 801 0323 (freephone number) for specific queries.

1. I already have 2 children and am expecting a baby boy in August. Will I get any benefits for my new baby?

As you already have 2 children and your new baby will be born after 6 April 2017 you will get some benefits for him but not the same as for your other children. The new rule means child tax credit, and housing benefit to help with rent, will now usually be paid for only 2 children so you will not get them for the baby. Child benefit and council tax reduction are not affected so will be paid for all your children.

2. I have 3 children and am getting child benefit, child tax credit, housing benefit and council tax reduction. Will these be reduced because I get them for 3 children?

You don’t have to worry about your benefits being reduced as the new rule only applies where the third child is born after 6 April 2017. Families getting benefits before this date will not be affected unless they already have 2 children and then have more after 6 April 2017.

3. My twins are due in June and I already have a son aged 3 and daughter of 7 years old. I get child benefit and child tax credit for them. What benefits will I get for my new babies?

One of the exceptions to the 2 child limit on tax credits is for multiple births. Parents who have no children, or one child, then have a multiple birth will have benefits paid for all of their children. Parents who already have 2 or more children then have a multiple birth will receive benefits for all but one of their children. As you already have 2 children you will receive child tax credit and help with rent for only one of your twins. In other words you will get child tax credit and help with rent for 3 children and child benefit and help with council tax for all

4. I have 4 children and have not received tax credits or universal credit in the past. I live in an area where universal credit can be claimed by families. Will I get it for all my children?

At the moment you cannot make a claim for universal credit if you have more than 2 children. You will have to make a claim for child tax credit. For child tax credit the 2 child limit does not affect children born before April 2017 but will be applied to children born after this date.

5. How will my universal credit be affected by the new ‘2 child limit’? I already have 3 children.

If your children were born before 6 April 2017 and you’ve been getting universal credit for all of them you will continue to receive it as long as you remain responsible for all 3 children. However you will not get universal credit for another baby born after April 2017.

6. What is the ‘rape clause’ I’ve heard people talk about, and how does it affect benefits?

The rape clause describes one of the exceptions to the 2 child limit. It says that a mother will get child tax credits for the new baby if she can show that the baby was conceived as a result of abusive or controlling behaviour. She may need to provide evidence from a professional such as a doctor, police officer or a worker from a service such as Women’s Aid and must not be staying in the same house as the father when the baby is born.

A form, available from the GOV.UK website or from a work coach at the local jobcentre, called ‘Support for a child conceived without your consent’ (NCC1 4/17 pdf) needs to be filled out.

7. Are there exceptions to the 2 child limit other than for a multiple birth or a child conceived by force?

Exceptions also apply where a child has been adopted or there is a kinship care arrangement.

For more details on the information given here see

If you need advice on your situation call us on freephone 0808 801 0323.


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