The Treasury manages public spending within two ‘control totals’ of about equal size:
- departmental expenditure limits (DELs) – mostly covering spending on public services, grants and administration (collectively termed ‘resource’ spending) and investment (‘capital’ spending). These are items that can be planned over extended periods.
- annually managed expenditure (AME) – categories of spending less amenable to multi-year planning, such as social security spending and debt interest.
Welfare spending is the biggest source of AME spending. Child benefit is expected to account for 4.3 per cent of total welfare spending in 2023-24.
Child benefit is a cash payment payable for each child in a family. Historically, it provided universal support for parents or guardians bringing up children, but since 2013 it has been subject to a tax charge for those earning over £50,000.
Child benefit spending is forecast to be £12.6 billion in the UK in 2023-24. We project spending to increase to £12.5 billion in 2027-28. This would represent around 1 per cent of total public spending, and 0.4 per cent of GDP. Child benefit recipients are forecast to receive an average of £1070 each in 2023-24.