Child benefit contact: Payment delays impact UK households, how to submit complaint and claim compensation

  • A processing error caused delays in child benefit payments, affecting half a million people
  • HMRC resolved the issue later that day
  • HMRC has apologised and said measures are in place ‘to prevent this from happening again’
  • Those affected can apply for compensation by completing HMRC's online complaints form
  • HMRC provides several ways to submit complaints, including by phone and by post

Widespread delays in the payment of child benefits impacted half a million people across the UK.

Approximately 30% of the child benefit payments scheduled for Monday June 3 were not processed last week, affecting around 500,000 individuals.

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Later that day, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the issue had been resolved, and those affected would receive their payments on the morning of Wednesday 5 June. The issue with payments was caused by a processing error.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “We are very sorry that some customers did not receive their scheduled child benefit payments as expected and we understand the concern and difficulty this may have caused.

“We have now fixed the problem and are putting measures in place to prevent this from happening again.

But what can you do if the issue left you out of pocket, or experiencing a financial loss? Are there any ways you can apply to recoup your losses? Here is everything you need to know.

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How much is child benefit?

(Photo: Marisa Cashill/NationalWorld(Photo: Marisa Cashill/NationalWorld
(Photo: Marisa Cashill/NationalWorld

People may be eligible for child benefit if they are responsible for a child under 16 and live in the UK. As of August 2023, 6.91 million families were in receipt of child benefit payments.

The weekly child benefit allowance is generally £25.60 for an eldest or only child and £16.95 per child for additional children.

Child benefit is usually paid every four weeks on a Monday or a Tuesday. Some people may receive the benefit weekly, for example if they are a single parent or receiving certain other benefits, such as universal credit.

How can I complain to HMRC?

Note that before submitting any complaint or claim for compensation, you will need your National Insurance number, your child benefit reference number, details of the problem, including dates and any correspondence, and how the delay or error has affected you.

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In relation to the incident, HMRC has said: “Anyone who has incurred a direct financial loss because of the delayed payment can apply for redress by completing our online complaints form.”

People who have been left out of pocket may want to complain to HMRC, which has a complaints section on its website at gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/complain-about-hmrc.

You’ll need your Government Gateway user ID and password to submit your complaint online. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one during the complaint process.

By phone

The HMRC helpline contact number for child benefit inquiries is 0300 200 3100. Since we are no over a week removed from the initial incident, it should be easier to get through - last week, some people reported attempting to call HMRC up to 30 times without success.

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Note that the line is open Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm - it is not available on weekends and bank holidays.

The helpline uses speech recognition software and will ask why you are calling HMRC. If you cannot use this software, you can learn how to get additional support from HMRC.

The helpline may also ask security questions, so you’ll need to ensure your personal details and address are up to date in your personal tax account to avoid failing this security process. If you do not have a personal tax account, you can create one.

If you cannot hear or speak on the phone, you can use Relay UK by dialing 18001 then 0300 200 3100. Visit the Relay UK website for more details.

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By post

You can also write to the Child Benefit Office with the details of your complaint (it’s advised that you write “complaint” on the envelope and at the top of the letter to make sure gets into the right hands).

The address is as follows: Child Benefit Office, PO Box 1, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE88 1AA, United Kingdom.

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