Fewer families in Devon were claiming Child Benefit last year, new figures have revealed.
Anti-poverty campaign group Turn2Us warned the “intimidating” benefits system could deter families who need help from applying for cash they are entitled to.
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 78,265 families in Devon in receipt of the benefit on August 31 last year — a slight decrease on the same date in 2021.
This meant there were 350 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, and 75,000 families receiving the payment when compared to August 2021.
David Samson, benefits specialist at Turn2us, said Child Benefit used to be much simpler, but parents were being put off by the “poorly-designed” HICBC.
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.”
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 said they urge families to claim the benefit, regardless of income, and the HICBC was widely advertised on social media, through pregnancy and parenting organisations and on the front page of the Child Benefit claim form.
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.”
The data also reveals the size of the families receiving Child Benefit.
In Devon, 36,315 families had one child, while there were 31,495 with two and 8,065 with three children.
Overall there were 133,820 children in Devon living in families in receipt of child benefit – up from 134,945 the year before.