Social Justice

Child benefit: Parents left 'hungry' as HMRC glitch means half a million haven't received payments

While the glitch at HMRC should be criticised, the 'bigger picture' is how difficult the cost of living crisis has made life for families

childcare

Image: Unsplash

Around half a million people have been left without their child benefit payment due to a technical glitch at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

Parents have slammed the error at HMRC, as a processing issue meant that around 30% of payments scheduled for Monday (3 June) did not go through. The tax authority has apologised and said these payments will now go ahead on Wednesday (5 June). 

It has added that anyone who has incurred a loss due to the late payment can apply for redress. 

Several parents have commented on social media about being left “hungry” due to the delay, with one recipient writing on X: “Still no child benefit in, which should have been in yesterday. This is ridiculous, payments have been rejected for my energy and now I don’t have anything for food.”

Another parent wrote: “Unfortunately it won’t be good enough as loads of people had overdrafts to be paid… myself included. Are you going to pay extra for that?”

One parent wrote that the error had caused her to miss a vital doctor’s appointment as she wasn’t able to pay for after-school care.

“I have breast cancer, relied on my child benefit to pay for after school childcare while I go to my pre-op assessment, which I now can’t attend so I have to delay,” she wrote. “If the delay means I require a mastectomy because of YOUR mess up, who is liable?”

With child benefits, parents can claim £25.60 per week for one child and £16.95 for each additional child. 

The two-child benefit cap, introduced in 2017, means that child tax credit and universal credit is restricted to the first two children in most households. It means that families claiming benefits who have a third or subsequent child after April 2017 are denied more than £3,000 a year per extra child compared with families whose kids were born sooner.

Around 1.5 million children live in families whose benefits are reduced by the two-child limit, which has widely been called to be scrapped.  

HMRC said it was “sorry” for the delay to payments, and that it understood “the concern and difficulty this may have caused”. 

A HMRC spokesman added in a statement: “We have now fixed the problem and are putting measures in place to prevent this from happening again.

“Affected customers will now receive their payments on Wednesday morning. Anyone who has incurred a direct financial loss because of the delayed payment can apply for redress by completing our online complaints form.”

It added that payments scheduled for Tuesday (4 June) would be made on time.

Journalist Kevin Maguire explained that while the glitch at HMRC should be criticised, the “bigger picture” is how difficult the cost of living crisis has made life for families.

“The screw-up is unacceptable and that incompetence and ineptitude is hugely damaging, but the bigger picture is the number of people who live [hand] to mouth, paycheque to paycheque, payment to payment, in the world’s sixth biggest economy,” he said on Good Morning Britain.

“They’re [families] in incredible hardship, and the blight that has on their lives and the lives of their children, that’s what it highlights.”

The Children’s Prosperity Plan charity added: “The recent failure in HMRC’s system that delayed child benefit payments for nearly half a million families is a stark indication that our current welfare infrastructure is not up to the task.

“This disruption not only caused immediate financial hardship but also exposed the vulnerabilities in our support systems.

“It’s essential that we develop a more reliable and responsive welfare system to ensure that no family has to face unnecessary delays in receiving the support they crucially depend on. We cannot allow technical failures to compromise the wellbeing of our children and families.”

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Shameful stuff': Labour suspends seven rebel MPs who voted to end two-child benefit cap
keir starmer
Two-child benefit cap

'Shameful stuff': Labour suspends seven rebel MPs who voted to end two-child benefit cap

DWP should prioritise supporting benefit claimants over sanctions, most people say
jobcentre plus/ dwp
Department for Work and Pensions

DWP should prioritise supporting benefit claimants over sanctions, most people say

Campaigners welcome closure of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge – but Labour faces calls to go further
Bibby Stockholm
Bibby Stockholm

Campaigners welcome closure of Bibby Stockholm asylum barge – but Labour faces calls to go further

PIP changes: Labour government urged to drop 'dangerous' disability benefit reforms
dwp offices
Department for Work and Pensions

PIP changes: Labour government urged to drop 'dangerous' disability benefit reforms

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know