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How apprenticeships affect child benefit - and why you could have been underpaid benefits for up to seven years

Leaving college and starting an apprenticeship can change benefit entitlements.
Leaving college and starting an apprenticeship can change benefit entitlements.

Q. My son has changed his mind about the college course he started in September.

He has decided that he wants to do an apprenticeship instead and will be getting £145 per week.
Will I need to do anything about my Child Benefit or will I continue to get it for this year? He is 18 years old.

A. Child Benefit is usually paid until the next ‘terminal date’ after the child leaves education; the terminal dates are in February, May, August and November.

However, where the child moves into employment, including apprenticeships, the payment of Child Benefit must stop as soon as they leave their course of education.
You would need to contact the Child Benefit office on 0300 200 3100 to notify them that your son is no longer in education and will be starting the apprenticeship.

These rules also apply for Child Tax Credit, so if you are currently claiming Child Tax Credit for your son then you will need to call HMRC on 0345 300 3900 to notify them of the change in your circumstances.

Over the last few months, this column has notified readers of possible underpayments of Employment & Support Allowance, and the action taken by the Department of Work & Pensions to rectify those impacted by any underpayments.

It appears that people potentially affected by this are being sent an ESA 3 form, but with little additional information about why the form has been sent.

If you receive such a form please do not ignore this, ensure it is completed and, as always, seek advice.

You potentially could be due a benefit underpayment which could have been underpaid since 2011.