child benefit, child tax, my 16yo son and the joys of home ed :)

i was oh so relieved when my eldest reach the magic age of 16 :) one down, i thought! no more letters from the LA (about him at least!). yay, we'd done our job and his education was no longer anyone else's business :)

ah, but i was wrong. the letter arrived from child benefit asking whether he intends to stay in full time non advanced education. i put off calling, making sure i had all the info from schoolhouse printed out & highlighted before i dared to make the call.

now, you know how it goes from here, don't you? you must, because there can't be a home educator alive who hasn't had one of those conversations with someone who doesn't have a clue about home ed and keeps desperately trying to get it to fit into their wee school template (an actual template if you're on the phone to a call centre and they can't deviate from their script!). one of those conversations where you can actually *hear* their eyebrows rising ;)

i coped very well (imho) with the 'he must be studying for a qualification' line, quoting back to her that being home ed for more than 12hrs/week and having been home ed prior to his 16th bday was sufficient. but the questions went on. start date (uh, 2006?); end date (when he feels like it - not an acceptable answer, apparently, so i suggested his 20th bday. the child benefit lady was not amused); name of course (seriously? i said we could make one up. less amusement); reason for home educating? (none of your business. kept that in, offered 'personal choice' instead).

by the time she was asking if i'd contacted tax credits to let them know of my change in circumstances (what change? :tape2: ah, i'm so ignorant to these bureaucratic ways....) i could sense she would quite like to reach thru the phone line and punch me (i'm sure her eyebrows were all the way round the back of her head by then :nod:) i did insist several times that it was referred to the full time education section and that i wanted a reply in writing from them. 6 weeks. then i'll know if i need to go thru the whole thing again. :frusty::frusty:

so, having spectactularly stuffed (i'd pick another, less polite word!) the child benefit call up, i thought i'd attempt a double whammy and call tax credits as well.

when i eventually got thru (top tip - the lovely voice talking to you transfers you to child benefit if you so much as mention 'child' regardless of who you'd actually like to talk to. if you haven't called hmrc recently, you should, just for the fun - try out different accents. i was so impressed 'she' understood my scottish accent i forgot to speak s l o w l y a n d c l e a r l y. didn't understand me so well after that :laugh:) and clarified that actually my circumstances hadn't changed (really? i know) i was advised to call back after 17th april when it will count as a change, apparently.:doh:

so, here, as a wee bit advice for anyone with one of these inconvenient 16yo persons who would quite like to still get some money from the government, i'd suggest:

gather relevant info before you call (this is the place to start)

write down answers to all the not-at-all-relevant-to-home-ed questions you can think of:
hours of study (make sure it's more than 12)
start and end dates of course (they qualify for child benefit til they're 20 if they're in non-advanced f/t education)
course name
qualifications working towards
reason you're home educating
anything else you can come up with.

try not to totally antagonise the poor individual on the other end of the phone who has no idea what you're prattling on about. :becky:

good luck!
Thanks for this! I'm glad you managed to keep your sense of humour and not scream at anyone! I think you did much better than I ever could. This malarkey is still a number of years off for us, but I've got no doubt nothing will have improved by then! x


You could always enlist the support of your Named Person who will be able to access the 'services' you are entitled to. :lol:

Thanks for this! I'm glad you managed to keep your sense of humour and not scream at anyone! I think you did much better than I ever could. This malarkey is still a number of years off for us, but I've got no doubt nothing will have improved by then! x
you've just given me such a wonderful idea. should i have to call back again, i'll get my 16yo person to do it :clap2: after all, he's the one eating us out of house and home ;) and if he can call virgin about the speed of our internet and sony about his laptop behaving weirdly and reconfigure all our wifi settings so that he gets priority over everyone else in the house (neat trick :) ), then surely he can negotiate with child benefit!

[probably not, actually, not sure i'd even trust my dh to make the call given how difficult it was even with all the info and feeling like i knew my stuff as much as possible. ho hum. still, if he can call himself a taxi and order pizza before he leaves home, he'll be fine. he can move on to wrestling government departments later :D my son, not my hubby - he still worries about calling the chippy in case he gets the lovely italian lady who doesn't understand him :lol:]



I've just received a letter from Income Support about my daughter now being over 16 - she is actually over 17 years old now :bored:

I'm a carer for my wife, and claim this in addition to Care allowance you see. Anyway, they wish to know about further education, and I've filled it in apart from one question.....

Name of School OR College SHE GOES TOO!?!

She doesn't as she is home taught using short courses, book reviews and the like. All accepted still by the local authority...who just sent me EMA forms too as they were satisfied.

So what are the suggestions for this?
She is doing in excess of 12 hours, I've put her end dates down as the month before her 19th Birthday, as we envision she will still be working away on this material (slow learner)

She may also do further education too! But this school or college one has thrown me completely. :(

Oh, had a rather heated exchange with HMRC Child tax the other week.....

They argued that she does not qualify, and I argued she they left it as is the now. Wonder if this is an off-shoot from this. :(

Any help is greatly appreciated and thank you in advance! :)



For our pesky eye appointment form I was just advised to fill in the address as a school.

You know, something like 'St. Ronan's Road School' (if you live on St. Ronan's Road).

That seemed to work!


P.S. Re HMRC and any of the tax people NEVER talk to one of the foot soldiers. You have to stay on the line until you get a real person who can comprehend what you are saying, and not the rather robotic bunch on the laughingly-called 'helpline'.

So go to the last option and wait until someone answers.


I've just had a letter from HMRC compliance team asking about my Daughters education. Saying they think I've been overpaid and to supply details of course - which is just random learning as carry on from since she was 12 - Name of providers, Details of EMA (WHICH WE NEVER CLAIMED) and qualification working towards.

Im really in a panic here as they are requesting all the way back till she was 16 and it reads like they think we have been overpaid all this time.

I've just been through a compliance interview this week too with Income Support - Im a carer for wife - as someone said I owned a company which was actually my hobby website. They were fine with the clarification and said it was closed now. Is this sparked from that since I gave a statement and mentioned my daughter was a slow learner?

She turns 18 in June and the claim ends in September. I was swithering whether to continue another year of education or help her find a job.

Someone has it in for us I think! So unfair! Anyone dealt with similar before? Im going to hunt out all the plans up till last years one and print them off, along with my emails back and forth with local education board who were happy enough.

The stress im under lately is unfair!

Im going to go self-employed next month to get away from it all.

Being a carer, disabled partner and home education seems to be bad in these peoples eyes!


Sorry you are having all this hassle, Ryan.

This blog post may be useful as it contains references to the regulations on what constitutes Child benefit and tax credit eligibility in respect of young people continuing in full time elective home education post 16.

Also this article, which was updated in Feb 2015, covers universal credit for the self employed.

If you have a half decent MP (which is doubtful given the result of the election), get them to work for you and sort it out with HMRC.


Thank you Ali!

I'm in the process of printing off 5 years of emails with Fife Council Education department, education plans post 16 years old showing over 12 hours of study - more like 25 hours actually - and even the local authority telling me the plans were very concise.

Found some old letters too! Will write a letter giving them permission to access my file at the council with all plans too and paperwork.

What a nightmare! They will get a bible thick recorded delivery Tuesday morning with everything including highlights of their own laws in this area. Fed up with it all!

I will be claiming EMA now for her too! Penalised when you do not claim, unreal!

Sorry, I'm venting here! Thank you :tape2:


Just to say, I sent off all my evidence on Monday, recorded delivery. It was quite a package too. Every email with the local education board back to 2010 - date of home schooling when daughter was 13 - letters asking for annual plans, emails back saying my plans where comprehensive and kept on file.

I sent off a sample plan from 2013 that I had, and the one for this year which is specifically listing English & Maths working towards the Standard grade qualification set by SQA. Daughter is a slow learner, so she is at a younger level.

Speaking of such, she was in here crying all day yesterday as she thinks she can not do the work good enough, thinks it's her fault that this is happening, and she is worried more about her future now. Heartbreaking :eek:hwell:

Since I have been prompted to build the annual plan early this year due to this, and work through all the documents too. I have put in a new claim for Child Benefit for another year till 19th Birthday to see how we go. This was sent - with annul plan - to the FTES in Child Benefit (clearly marked)I expect likewise with Tax credits, but stuck till I find out what is goign to happen with this.

I assume that if HMRC Child Benefit has no problems at all and accepting the status of home educated - before 16 - children who carry on in their study, that the tax credits rules and regulations are the same?

I mean, after-all, it was Tax Credits who told me we would be awarded if it was deemed acceptable by Child Benefit and to call them back if this was the case, which I did.

Thankfully, due the forum board here and looking back my old posts, I was able to pin-point the exact date I called them - as I posted here about it - and included this in my correspondence with them, and told them to check their system.

It has made me realise, and a massive piece of advice for anyone who is thinking of claiming further if their child continues in education at home, keep records of all dates and times of calls, keep all letters relating to home education from local education authority & government departments, and ensure you read the guidelines on these boards or linked websites such as SchoolHouse.

If and when I get some feedback, I will post it here so that it can be stored for informational purposes.

I am expecting to get the all clear, BUT if by chance they try to award against me, I will be fighting it all the way to Tribunal for certain. I will not be rolling over and having my belly tickled by any governmental department for home educating my daughter, and claiming what is due to be claimed.

If like my second oldest daughter - who does attend School - and is who is planning to stay on for another two years, she would have been deemed as accepted automatically for tax credits. So what is the difference here!! Discrimination is what, and I will not give up without a very strong fight!

You would think they would be away chasing Tax Dodgers such as Vodafone, Amazon, and the like for the billions we are due as a country. No, let us continue attacking those at the bottom of the uneven ladder!

Well we will see about that! :tape: