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4.2 Who is a prescribed child?
The term 'prescribed child' is defined in section 4(1) of the SRCA. It broadly means a person under 16, or a person aged 16 and up to 25 years, in full time education and not generally in employment. Refer to Part 1.18 for explanation of the 'prescribed child'.
A prescribed child under the age of 16 remains a prescribed child regardless of that child's continued attendance at school etc. Weekly payments should continue to be made throughout the year, i.e. even where the child undertakes casual employment during school holidays.
For guidance on the application of 17(5)(b) refer to 1.20.
However, after the child attains the age of 16, the delegate must have regard to whether:
4(1)(b)(ii)is receiving full-time education at a school, college, university or other educational institution, and
(iii)is not ordinarily in employment or engaged in work on his or her own account'
Thus the entitlement to S17(5) payments for a dependent child between the ages of 16 and 25 is dependent on whether that person is engaged in full time study. Therefore, for those engaged in university or college courses etc. it is reasonable that the delegate be informed of the course undertaken and the expected date of completion. If the delegate is not provided with this basic information, that delegate should NOT authorise S17(5) payments.
Furthermore, delegates are also required to check periodically that the child is still engaged in that course of study. (See 4.11 for this review process.)
The S4(1) definition of 'prescribed child' sets a maximum age of 25 years regardless of subsequent educational courses. Subsection 17(5) payments may not, therefore, be made to a person over the age of 25, even if the course of study continues after that 25 — th birthday.
The qualifying course(s) of education can be commenced before, or at any time between the ages of 16 and 25. There is no requirement that the period of education should be continuous. It can start and stop and restart during that period as the child's circumstances and preferences dictate (in which case for a person over 16 the S17(5) benefit would stop and start coincident with the conduct of the course.) However, note that any particular period of study must be full time. Part-time attendance at university etc. does not qualify the child for S17(5). Note that payment is not dependent upon the child's academic standard of performance.
Note also that it is current policy to continue to pay S17(5) over term holidays and semester breaks, providing that the overall course of study continues uninterrupted after that break.
S17(5) excludes children who are 'ordinarily' in employment or who are engaged in work 'on his/her own account'. However it is current policy to interpret 'ordinarily' so as not to exclude students who take casual or part time jobs.
Furthermore, students who continue to work in or assist with a family owned business without pay during the period of education (for instance, a family farm or a shopkeeping business) would not be excluded either, as they are not earning 'on his/her own account'.