Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

United Kingdom - Family-related benefits

In what situation can I claim?

You can claim Guardian’s Allowance if you are bringing up children whose parents have died, and may also be eligible if one parent is still alive.

Child Tax Credit can help with the costs of bringing up a child.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children can help with extra costs arising from looking after children with health conditions.

What conditions do I need to meet?

Guardian’s Allowance

To get this allowance, all of the following need to be true:

  • you are bringing up someone else’s child;
  • the child’s parents are dead (see conditions for one surviving parent below);
  • you qualify for Child Benefit;
  • one of the parents was born in the UK (or lived in the UK since the age of 16 for at least 52 weeks in any 2-year period).

If you adopt a child you may still get Guardian’s Allowance as long as you were getting it before you adopted the child.

If there is a surviving parent, there are other criteria you will need to meet.

Child Tax Credit

  • You could be entitled to this credit if you are on a low income and  each child you are responsible for is under 16 or under 20 in approved education or training, (see the ‘Jargon busters’ box below for the definition of ‘responsible’). You do not need to be working to claim.

Disability Living Allowance for children

This allowance is paid if the child you are responsible for is under 16 and has difficulties walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age with no disability.

The child also needs to:

  • be in Great Britain, another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland when you claim. There are some exceptions, e.g. for families of members of the Armed Forces;
  • have lived in Great Britain for 2 out of the last 3 years if over 3 years old;
  • be allowed to enter or stay in the UK.

In the case of young babies:

  • A child under 6 months must have lived in Great Britain for at least 13 weeks;
  • A child aged between 6 months and 3 years must have lived in Great Britain for at least 26 of the last 156 weeks.

The rules on habitual residence do not usually apply if the child is terminally ill.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Guardian’s Allowance

Guardian’s Allowance is worth £16.55 a week; it is provided on top of Child Benefit and is tax free. In some cases you will need to let the Guardian’s Allowance Unit know if your circumstances change, (see the ‘Who do you need to contact?’ box below).

It can be backdated for up to 3 months.

Child Tax Credit

The basic amount of Child Tax Credit is up to £545 a year and this can be topped up with elements which take into account your income and circumstances, such as if your child is disabled.


Yearly amount

For each child

Up to £2 780

For each disabled child

Up to £3 175

For each severely disabled child

Up to £1 290 (on top of the disabled child payment)

Use the tax credit calculator to work out how much you could get.

Your tax credits can go up or down if your family or work life change - you must report these changes to the Tax Credit Office, (see the ‘Who do you need to contact?’ box below). For example, this might happen if your child leaves home or your income changes.

There is no set limit for income because it depends on your circumstances (and those of your partner).

For example, the limit is sometimes £26 100 for a one-child family but can be higher if you pay for approved childcare or one of you is disabled.

To support your claim, keep records of your income, bills, pay slips, benefits, tax credits, childcare and education. Hold on to your records for the current year and at least two years previously. You will have to renew your claim once a year.

You need to renew your tax credits once a year. The deadline is usually 31 July but your renewal pack will confirm the deadline. More information on renewal can be found here.

Disability Living Allowance for children

The Disability Living Allowance for children is tax free and made up of two components. The child might qualify for both.

Care component

Care component

Weekly rate

Lowest - help for some of the day or night


Middle - frequent help or constant supervision during the day, supervision at night or help when someone is on dialysis


Highest - help or supervision day and night, or the child is terminally ill


Mobility component

Mobility component

Weekly rate

Lower - can walk but needs supervision when outdoors


Higher - can’t walk, in pain after a short walk, could be ill if they walk, blind or severely sight impaired


If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a child who gets the middle or highest level of DLA you could qualify for Carer’s Allowance.

If your child’s circumstances change you will need to contact the Disabilities Benefits Helpline.

You may be asked to go to a meeting to assess your child’s needs. You will be told where and when you need to go and what paperwork you will need, such as a passport or birth certificate for you and your child.

When your child is over 16, they might be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is being phased in across the UK: more information on moving from DLA to PIP is offered here.   

Jargon busters

Responsibility for a child - you are responsible for a child if:

  • they live with you all the time;
  • they normally live with you and you are the main carer;
  • they keep their toys and clothes at your home;
  • you pay for their meals and give them pocket money;
  • they live in an EEA country or Switzerland but are financially dependent on you. 

Forms you may need to fill in

Guardian's Allowance claim form and guidance notes

Your child is entitled to fast-track DLA if their condition is terminal:

  • complete a DLA claim form;
  • include a DS1500 medical condition report with your claim form or send it soon after - these are free and you can only get them from a doctor, specialist or consultant.

Know your rights

The links below set out your rights in law. They are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:

Commission publication and website:

Who do you need to contact?

Guardian’s Allowance Unit

Register a change in your circumstances or ask for a claim pack:

Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1 Newcastle upon Tyne, NE88 1AA
Telephone: 0300 200 3101
Textphone: 0300 200 3103

Tax Credit Helpline

Register a change that could affect your Tax Credits:

Telephone: 0345 300 3900
Textphone: 0345 300 3909

Contact the Tax Credit Office for a renewal pack if you do not receive one at the end of the year.

Tax Credit Office
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

Disability Living Allowance address and telephone helpline:

Disability Service Centre
Postal address:
Disability Benefit Centre 4
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1BY

Telephone: 0800 121 4600 Textphone: 0800 121 4523 

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