FEWER families in Barnsley were claiming child benefit last year prompting a campaign group to urge the government to change the ‘intimidating’ system.

Parents can claim child benefit it is usually paid every four weeks and families receive £21.80 per week for the eldest child, and £14.45 for each subsequent child.

Families where one parent earns more than £50,000 a year are still eligible for the benefit, but will be taxed on it, so are able to opt out of receiving the money.

New HMRC data reveals there were 29,355 families in Barnsley in receipt of the benefit on August 31 last year a slight decrease on the same date in 2021.

This meant there were 55 fewer families receiving child benefit, in line with national trends.

In 2022 7.7 million families across the UK were claiming child benefit, with 683,000 opting out.

This is a decrease of 43,000 claiming families, including those opting out.

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Anti-poverty campaign group Turn2Us warned the ‘intimidating’ benefits system could deter families who need help from applying for cash they are entitled to.

David Samson, benefits specialist at the group, said child benefit used to be much simpler, but parents were being put off by the ‘poorly-designed’ system.

He said: “Overall, there are many people who are entitled to help but don’t access it which is why it’s important to keep checking eligibility.

“A lot of benefits go unclaimed, and it’s easy to see that this can often be due to how overly-complex the current system is.”

The data also reveals the size of the families receiving child benefit.

In Barnsley, 14,635 families had one child, while there were 10,670 with two and 3,045 with three children.

Overall there were 49,515 children in Barnsley living in families in receipt of child benefit up from 49,735 the year before.

A spokesperson for HMRC stressed it is important to register for child benefit even if you don’t claim the money, as it helps parents qualify for National Insurance credits which help protect their state pension.

They added: “Child benefit provides important financial support for millions of UK families and we encourage all families to claim it.

“Those on higher incomes who may be affected by the tax charge can find out all the information they need and follow a simple process at gov.uk.”