It’s an exciting time: your children are leaving high school and going out into the world of employment or supported further education. But they’re young, they’ll still need your support, and let’s be honest – it’s not easy to set out in the world on your own at the tender age of 16. Most young people will be at home for some time to come, particularly if they’re trying to gain work experience.
Unfortunately, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits stop being paid to parents on the 31st August on or after a child’s 16th birthday, if they leave approved education or approved training. And many apprenticeships fall outside the descriptions provided.
What is ‘approved education’?
It’s full-time education (more than 12 hours a week on average, of supervised study and / or course-related work experience). That includes A levels, Scottish Highers, NVQs up to level 3, and home education (if this began before your child turned 16). Courses aren’t approved if they’re paid for by an employer or ‘advanced’ (university degrees, HNCs, or BTECs).
What is ‘approved training?’
Approved training has to be unpaid. Courses that are part of a job contract aren’t approved. Approved training includes a place on the ‘Access to Apprenticeships’ scheme, in England; ‘Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships’ in Wales; the ‘Employability Fund programmes’ or ‘Get Ready for Work’ (if started before 1 April 2013) in Scotland; and places on ‘Training for Success’, ‘Pathways to Success’ or the ‘Collaboration and Innovation Programme’ in Northern Ireland.
So what happens next?
For many families, this is a challenging time. If, for example, your child is going on to a college where the education involves 3 or 4 days working in a placement then – although your child won’t be earning a wage – you won’t receive Child Benefit, which means losing income.
In theory, any ‘wage’ earned from a placement should help to replace the benefit that’s lost. In practice, many parents feel uncomfortable about asking youngsters to contribute so much, so soon.
If you want more information, it’s a good idea contact your Citizens Advice Bureau or refer to the Government’s websites – and the Child Benefit Office.