Tax credits and Child Benefit are UK wide benefits which can be claimed by home educating families as long as their children are continuing in elective home education. The Education Maintenance Allowance, on the other hand, is only available to home educated children in Scotland who meet the eligibility criteria.

The topic of tax credits and child benefit for home educators is one which is regularly visited on our discussion forums, as families frequently find one or both benefits wrongly withdrawn as soon as their child reaches 16. Having previously contacted the HMRC press office to point out what has become routine misapplication of the regulations, we have been assured training will be improved and the manual for call centre staff changed. It just never happens.

It should of course be straightforward to demonstrate eligibility, but it usually isn’t, so it’s always best to be prepared for the inevitable obstacle course that seems to be specially reserved for home educators. In the event that you meet with a brick wall, we strongly recommend contacting your MP to help focus bureaucratic minds.

The following information should hopefully be useful for those making their way through the HMRC maze.

Contrary to what under-trained call centre staff may tell you…

HMRC guidance which applies to tax credits and child benefit eligibility in respect of qualifying young people recognises elective home education, including autonomous home education, as “approved” education as long as it is “continuing”.

These HMRC guidance notes state on page 10:

“We may be able to pay Child Benefit for a young person if they continue their non advanced further education at home. However, education at home must have started before the young person reached age 16.”

The same definitions apply for tax credits.

For further reference, see:

CCM18030 – Child Benefit and Tax Credits: Definition of Full Time Education: “Main difference, if any, to Child Tax Credit (CTC) These definitions are the same for Child Tax Credit. See TCTM02230.”

CCM18035 – Child Benefit and Tax Credits: Definition of Approved Training: “Main difference, if any, to Child Tax Credit (CTC) This definition is the same as the definition for Child Tax Credit. See TCTM02230.”