Guardian's Allowance

Guardian's Allowance is a tax-free payment for people who are bringing up children whose parents have died. In certain circumstances you may qualify for Guardian's Allowance where only one parent has died.

On this page:

Do you qualify?

To get Guardian's Allowance all of the following need to apply:

  • you're bringing up someone else's child or children
  • one - or both - of the child's (or children's) parents have died
  • you qualify for Child Benefit for the child or children you're bringing up - even if you've decided not to receive the payments because you or your partner are liable to the 'High Income Child Benefit charge'

On top of these rules, one of the following must also apply to the parents:

  • one of them must have been born in the UK
  • on the date the parent (or parents) died, one of them must have been in the UK for at least 52 weeks in any two-year period since the age of 16

If you adopt a child you may still get Guardian's Allowance as long as you were getting it before you adopted the child.

Child Benefit - do you qualify?

High Income Child Benefit charge

If one parent has died

Sometimes you can get Guardian's Allowance if only one parent has died, for example, if:

  • you don't know where the surviving parent is
  • the parents were divorced or their civil partnership has been dissolved - as long as the parent who has survived doesn't have custody of the child and isn't maintaining them (and there isn't a court order in place that says this should be happening)
  • the parents weren't married and the mother has died but it isn't known who the father is
  • the surviving parent is in prison with a minimum two years left to serve from the date of death of the other parent - or is detained in a hospital by court order


How much Guardian's Allowance will you get?

The amount of Guardian's Allowance is £16.35 a week per child on top of Child Benefit.

Current Child Benefit rates


How Guardian's Allowance is paid

Guardian's Allowance is usually paid every four weeks directly into any bank, building society or National Savings and Investment (NS&I) account that accepts Direct Payment.

How Child Benefit, tax credits and Guardian's Allowance are paid


Does Guardian's Allowance affect your other benefits?

Guardian's Allowance doesn't count as income if you're claiming tax credits, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance. It is paid on top of these benefits.


Claiming Guardian's Allowance

Your Guardian's Allowance can usually be backdated for up to three months from the date the Guardian's Allowance Unit gets your claim.

When to claim

It is best to make your claim straight away to avoid losing money. You should claim Guardian's Allowance as soon as the child involved comes to live with you.

Try to claim both Guardian's Allowance and Child Benefit at the same time so that the Guardian's Allowance Unit can deal with them both together. If you can't apply for Guardian's Allowance straight away, make sure you apply for Child Benefit.

Paperwork you need

When you claim you will need to provide:

  • the child's original birth certificate
  • the original death certificate for the parent or parents

The Guardian's Allowance Unit cannot normally accept photocopies.

Where to get a claim form

You can:

  • print out a blank Guardian's Allowance claim form and fill it in by hand
  • get a claim pack by contacting the Guardian's Allowance Unit

Before you complete the claim form, please read the notes that go with it.

Once you have completed your form, please send it back to the Guardian's Allowance Unit at the address shown below.

Get a blank Guardian's Allowance claim form (PDF 201K)

Get help with claiming Guardian's Allowance (PDF 200K)


Changes you need to report

There are many changes that may affect your entitlement to Guardian's Allowance, and also Child Benefit, or may delay your payments.

For example, you must tell the Guardian's Allowance Unit if:

  • the child you get Guardian's Allowance for goes to live with someone else
  • you go abroad
  • your child leaves full-time education or approved training
  • you become aware of the whereabouts of the surviving parent
  • you change the account that you get your Guardian's Allowance and Child Benefit paid into - otherwise your payments may go to the wrong place
  • you change your address - your payments may stop if the Guardian's Allowance Unit can't contact you

If you are getting Guardian's Allowance because one parent is dead and the surviving parent is in prison or in hospital, you must tell the Guardian's Allowance Unit if the surviving parent:

  • comes out of prison or hospital
  • has their sentence reduced
  • makes a payment towards their child's upkeep at any time

You can get a more complete list of changes that affect your Guardian's Allowance and Child Benefit by following the link below.

Child Benefit - which changes you need to report

How to report the changes

You can report changes by:

  • contacting the Guardian's Allowance Unit - details are at the end of this article
  • using the Child Benefit 'change of circumstances' online forms

Report a change of circumstances online


If you're not happy with a decision on your claim

If the Guardian's Allowance Unit has come to a decision you don’t agree with you should contact them.. You can ask them to:

  • explain how they reached their decision
  • check your claim again to make sure their decision was the right one

It's your right to get a proper explanation about a Guardian's Allowance decision.

If you're still not happy you may have the right of appeal, but there are steps to take first. Follow the link below to find out what to do.

The process for Guardian's Allowance is the same as the one for Child Benefit.

Appealing against a Child Benefit decision


Contacting the Guardian's Allowance Unit

You can get in touch with the Guardian's Allowance Unit in a number of ways. You can:

  • send in your query online following the link below
  • call the Guardian's Allowance Helpline

Send in your Guardian's Allowance query online

Contact details for the Guardian's Allowance Helpline

Alternatively, you can write to:

The Guardian's Allowance Unit
Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE88 1AA