Amid constant changes to our social security system, child benefit remains largely unchanged since it was introduced in 1977. It was intended to recognise and support parents with the cost of raising a child, regardless of their income and, in 2023/24, is worth £24 per week for the eldest child and £15.90 for each additional child.
The more recent introduction of universal credit (UC) has transformed the way much of the benefit system operates for families by merging six benefits (not including child benefit) into a single monthly payment. While the intention behind UC was to simplify the system and create a smoother transition into work, in practice, it has left us with an unpredictable and complex working-age benefit. Recipients can struggle to predict their monthly award leaving them in a state of financial uncertainty.
Families tell us how important predictability and security are, alongside having enough money to make ends meet. Families also want control over how best to progress into, or at, work and how to manage caring responsibilities. While UC demands that parents who don’t earn a certain amount of money routinely visit the job centre, child benefit is unconditional and offers families a foundation of stability on which to build.