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How to complain to the Child Benefit Office

In most cases, your dealings with the Child Benefit Office should be easy and cause you no difficulties or inconvenience. However, mistakes and delays can happen, or you may feel unhappy with how you've been dealt with. Whatever the problem, you have the right to complain about poor service.

On this page:

When to complain

If you've had a bad experience, let the Child Benefit Office know as soon as possible. You may want to complain about:

  • an unreasonable delay
  • a mistake you feel could have been avoided
  • how you've been treated

The Child Benefit Office is keen to learn from errors and put things right as quickly as possible.

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How to complain - first steps

You can make a complaint:

  • online by following the link below - put 'Complaint' as the first thing in the box that asks for your question
  • by calling the Child Benefit Helpline
  • by writing to the Child Benefit Office - put 'Complaint' at the top of your letter

Send in your Child Benefit complaint online

Contact details for Child Benefit

When you complain, make sure you provide, or are ready to give:

  • your full name and address
  • your National Insurance number
  • the last reference number the Child Benefit Office used when contacting you
  • a contact telephone number and if possible the best time you can be contacted, or email address

Give as much detail as you can about your complaint, including:

  • what went wrong
  • when it happened
  • who you dealt with
  • how you'd like it settled

The Child Benefit Office will look at your concerns and contact you - normally within 15 working days. They try to resolve most complaints at this stage.

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If you want to take your complaint further

If you're unhappy with the response from the Child Benefit Office, you can ask the Director's Complaints Team to look at your complaint again. You can do this:

  • online by following the link below - put 'Complaint for the Director' as the first thing in the box that asks for your question
  • by calling the Child Benefit Helpline
  • by writing to the Director at the Child Benefit Office - put 'Complaint' at the top of your letter

Send the Child Benefit Office Director a complaint online

Contact details for Child Benefit

You will need to provide:

  • your full name and address
  • your National Insurance number
  • the last reference number the Child Benefit Office used when we contacted you
  • a contact telephone number and if possible the best time you can be contacted, or email address
  • reasons why you are unhappy with the response you have received so far

If you're still unhappy

If you're unhappy with the Director's decision you can ask the Adjudicator to look into your complaint. The Adjudicator is a fair and unbiased referee whose recommendations are independent.

The Adjudicator will only look at your complaint after you have first tried to resolve it with the Child Benefit Office.

Visit the Adjudicator's Office website (Opens new window)

You can also ask any MP to refer your case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will normally expect you to have had your complaint considered by the Child Benefit Office and the Adjudicator, before they will consider your case.

You can also ask your MP to take up your case with HMRC or Treasury Ministers.

Visit the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website (Opens new window)

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What to expect from the Child Benefit Office when you complain

The Child Benefit Office is keen to help you if you need to complain, and will deal with you in a friendly and professional way. They'll:

  • tell you that they've received your complaint, who's dealing with it and when they'll reply
  • treat your complaint seriously and confidentially
  • not treat you differently from other people because you've made a complaint
  • not discriminate against you for any reason

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Claiming back costs

You may be able to claim back reasonable costs caused by the Child Benefit Office's mistakes. For example:

  • postage
  • phone calls
  • travel expenses
  • professional fees
  • financial charges

The Child Benefit Office may make a small payment to you if:

  • they've caused you a lot of worry or distress
  • your complaint was handled badly
  • they took too long to deal with your complaint

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More useful links

Download a factsheet on complaints and putting things right (PDF 263K)

How to appeal against a Child Benefit decision

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