Claiming Child Benefit, which used to take up to 16 weeks to receive when applying by post, can now be done online in 10 minutes and could be in your bank account in just three working days.

It follows a revamp of the benefits system by the UK tax authorities for new parents who can now use their computers at home or their mobile phones out and about.

Families claiming Child Benefit, which was first introduced in 1977, have always had to fill out a form, post it and wait as long as 16 weeks for their first payment. Now it can all be processed using the “make a claim” page on the website.

“We’ve made it easier and quicker for families to claim this crucial help by making it digital,” HM Revenue and Customs’ Suzanne Newton explained. “Parents and guardians can apply when it suits them and be paid within days, not weeks.”

Child Benefit is £24 a week for the oldest or only child, with the rate for each younger child at £15.90. Claims can be backdated for up to 12 weeks.

Parents or guardians can get Child Benefit for youngsters under 16, or under 20 if they go onto higher education or a recognised training programme. There is no limit on the number of children parents can claim for.

They can apply from the day after a child’s birth has been registered. They receive National Insurance credits which count towards their State Pension. It also means the child automatically gets a National Insurance number when they turn 16, which is needed for their first job, or for taking a driving test or applying for a university grant.

Information needed when making a claim includes bank details, National Insurance number and the child’s birth certificate. Families with adopted children or those with children born abroad can also make online claims, the tax agency points out, but need to send additional information through the post.

Child Benefit can be backdated up to three months. Parents with children over six months old may be asked to download and print their completed claim form and send it through the post.