Fewer Milton Keynes families received child benefits last year, new figures show

There’s been a downward trend since the High Income Child Benefit Charge was introduced
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A record low number of families in MK received child benefit last year, new data shows.

The numbers follow a downward trend since a change to the rules was introduced in 2013.

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While child benefit went up in April, a charity has warned it “still won’t give families the fair and simple system they need to help with the extra costs children bring”.

The number of families in Milton Keynes receiving child benefit  has dropped over the past yearThe number of families in Milton Keynes receiving child benefit  has dropped over the past year
The number of families in Milton Keynes receiving child benefit has dropped over the past year

Figures from HMRC show around 32,600 families in Milton Keynes were in receipt of benefits for 56,480 children in the 12 months to August. This was 430 fewer families than the year before.

Only one parent per family can claim child benefit and there is no limit to how many children it’s claimed for. On April 6, it rose to £25.60 a week from £24 for the eldest child, and £16.95 for younger children, up from £15.90.

However, Alison Garnham, CEO of the Child Poverty Action Group, said the support has lost 20% of its value since 2010, so families are still left to struggle against rising prices.

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Nationally, 6.9 million families than ever were receiving child benefits. There has been a downward trend ever since the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) was introduced.

HICBC came into force in January 2013. It did not affect a child’s entitlement, but meant the recipient would be liable to repay some or all of their entitlement if their income, or their partner’s income, exceeded £50,000 per year. The threshold has increased to £60,000 as announced at the Spring Budget.

Thomas Cave, policy manager at The Children’s Society, said: “The Government has announced plans to change the calculation, so it isn’t just based on the highest earner in a household but the total household income. This should make the system much fairer, especially for single parent families.

“Every child should get the support they need to thrive, but at the moment many families are struggling to afford the essentials and we urge the Government to invest more in social security for children in low-income families through child benefit and universal credit.”

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In 2023, a record number of families opted out of receiving the payments – 741,305. This included around 4,555 in Milton Keynes, up from 4,085 the year before.

Ms Garnham said: “Every kid deserves the best start in life but too many have been let down by this Government.

“Child benefit was designed to support all children, but years of tweaks and tinkering have created a confusing, unfair system that leaves many families ineligible or puts them off claiming.

“Just as we provide universal support to pensioners, every child should be backed by child benefit and every family should have the security it brings. Universal child benefit should be restored and its value increased by £20 per week.”

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A Treasury spokesperson said: “Increasing the High Income Child Benefit Charge threshold from £50,000 to £60,000 mean that almost half a million working families will gain an average of £1,260 towards the cost of raising their children.

“We are also exploring how we can simplify the system, for example by assessing Child Benefit on a household rather than individual basis.”