In the main, the parents take on the responsibility of looking after their children. There are, however, instances where others carry out the parental duties, for example, if the parent(s) have passed away. In such a situation, a guardian will take on the role. For anyone who becomes a guardian, the government provides financial assistance through the Guardian’s Allowance. This article will cover the benefit in detail, including who can apply and the application process.
Guardian’s Allowance – An Overview
The Guardian’s Allowance is a tax-free benefit paid at a rate of £20.40 per week until the child reaches the age of 18. The money is paid through the bank every 4 weeks though arrangements can be made for weekly payments for single parents or those on income support.
This benefit is aimed at those bringing up a child whose parents have died. However, in some instances, it may be possible to obtain this benefit if one parent is still alive. You can find out more about this possibility in the section below.
The Eligibility Criteria
To obtain the “Guardian Allowance”, all of the following conditions must apply:
- You are raising a child who belongs to someone else
- The parents of the child are dead (see below if one parent is alive)
- You are eligible for Child Benefit
Additionally, one of the child’s parents must have been born in the UK, Switzerland, or the European Economic Area. Alternatively, the parents must have lived in the UK since age 16 for 52 weeks of the year in any given 2-year period.
Should one of the parents be alive but if any of the following conditions are true, you are entitled to the Guardian’s Allowance if:
- The whereabouts of the surviving parent are unknown
- The child’s parents were divorced, the surviving mother or father does not hold custody of the child and has not been given court orders to look after the child
- The surviving mother or father is in prison for a minimum of 2 years from the time of the death
- A court order has placed the surviving parent in the hospital
How To Apply for the Guardian’s Allowance
The person taking on the role of the guardian should make a claim as soon as they become the legal guardian and the child begins to live with them. However, claims can be backdated by 3 months. The guardian must fill in the form (BG1) and post the application form and supporting paperwork to the Guardian’s Allowance Unit.
Guardian’s Allowance Unit Child Benefit Office,
PO Box 1,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Tyne and Wear,
The forms can be filled online but must be printed and sent off through the post. The Guardian’s Allowance Unit can assist with the application process and are contactable by telephone. The phone number is 0300 322 9080, and the helpline is open 8.30 am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
Processing Times and Payment Dates
The administration process by the government bodies in the United Kingdom is highly efficient, with paperwork generally completed within a couple of weeks or sooner.
Usually, the first communication will inform the applicant whether they are successful. For successful claimants, the letter will let them know the payment amounts and the compensation dates. After processing the application, payments are deposited into the bank every 4 weeks.
Given that the application can be backdated by 3 months, any monies due 3 months before the application are included with the first payment.
Change of Circumstances
Any change to the living arrangements and circumstances must be reported. This includes all of the following:
- The child starts to live with another person
- The guardian goes overseas for more than 8 weeks
- The child is no longer in full-time education or training schemes
- If the guardian’s bank details or address changes
- Contact is made with the previously unknown surviving parent
- The surviving parent is no longer in prison or hospital
- The surviving parent starts to make payments towards the welfare of the child
Child Benefit, and Appealing Against an Unsuccessful Application
As the legal guardian, you can apply for Child Benefit in addition to the Guardian’s Allowance. Currently, for 2023/2024, the Child Tax benefit is £24 per week. You can apply for Child Benefit through this link. Following the application for Guardian’s Allowance or Child Benefit, it is possible to appeal against unsuccessful claims. It will involve a mandatory reconsideration; information about the process can be found here.
Giving Children the Best Opportunity
If the parent(s) of a child is unfortunate enough to perish and someone else takes over their welfare, they are entitled to the Guardian’s Allowance. It is an additional payment on top of the Child Benefits scheme to help people to raise children. If you qualify for this benefit, be sure to apply as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss out.