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Changes for families - the 'two-child limit' explained



From 6 April 2017, the amount of Government support payable to families with more than two children will be limited. The long-awaited regulations about this have now been published – here’s a summary of the main points. 

Child Tax Credit

There is no extra child element for any child born on or after 6 April 2017 if there are already two or more dependent children in the household.  This means a loss of £2,780 a year for any child born after 6 April 2017 (unless exceptions apply).

Housing Benefit

The default rule is that there is:

  • no extra child allowance for any additional children to the household on or after 6 April 2017, and
  • a limit to two child allowances for any new claim for Housing Benefit made on or after 6 April 2017,

...UNLESS the claimant's Child Tax Credit award includes a child element for that child.

Universal Credit

For existing Universal Credit claimants the general rule is that there is no extra child element for any new dependent children in the household if there are already two or more in the award.

This is regardless of when they were born. This is a loss of around £231 per month.


  • During the period from 6 April 2017 - 31 October 2018 there will be protection in the Universal Credit rules to mirror the Child Tax Credit rules. That means that if a third or subsequent child or young person comes to live in the claimant's household a child element will be included if they were born before 6 April 2017.
  • Also, new claims for Universal Credit from families with three or more children will be directed to claim older benefits (such as Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance) instead. This even applies in areas like Bath where Universal Credit is being fully rolled-out. Bear in mind that claimants who have been on Universal Credit may have to make a new claim for Universal Credit (we’re reviewing the regulations to understand which claimants this will apply to). 


Exclusions will apply in certain circumstances, such as:

  • multiple births,
  • adoptions,
  • families caring for children who would otherwise be in local authority care, and
  • children born as a result of non-consensual conception.

Other changes

The new regulations also confirm that for Child Tax Credit there will be no family element in the award if the first child is born on or after 6 April 2017. This is a loss of £545 per year.

For Universal Credit, the regulations are also amended so that the higher amount of the child element for the eldest child is abolished for claimants whose first child is born after 6 April 2017. They will get the child element at £231.67 instead of £277.08 a month.

There are also amendments to the Child Tax Credit regulations to create a separate disability element. Previously a higher child element was paid for a disabled or severely disabled child or young person. So that the disability element can still be paid to a third or subsequent child who isn’t getting a basic element, the two elements will be separate from 6 April 2017.

If you’re confused or concerned, please get in touch with Curo’s Customer Accounts Team on 01225 366000 or refer to  https://gov.uk/

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