1. Introduction and purpose

Speaking to the purpose of the bill, Lord Farmer said:

The Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill would make it possible for parents of younger children to receive higher rates of child benefit than when those same children are older. As this is about increasing choice to parents, including about how much time they spend working relative to being at home with their children when they are young, access to this variable rate would be optional. Parents could still choose to have a flat rate across childhood. It would only apply to children born after the commencement of the act, so no existing child would receive a reduced rate.

Lord Farmer introduced a similar bill in the 2021–22 session that did not receive a second reading.

2. Policy background

2.1 What is child benefit?

Child benefit is a UK welfare benefit paid to people responsible for bringing up children under the age of 16, or aged 16 to 20 and in approved education or training. Certain restrictions apply for non-UK citizens.

Child benefit is paid regardless of the income and level of savings of the household. However, if the recipient or their partner earn more than £50,000 per year they will pay an additional tax charge, the ‘high income child benefit charge’. Where income exceeds £60,000, the tax charge is equal to the amount payable in Child Benefit.

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