Universal Credit and the impact it has on claiming support with childcare

Q. I am starting a part-time job, but have childcare costs. I was told that these were payable for people getting Tax Credits, but I've never had these.

Child care support with Universal Credit.
Child care support with Universal Credit.

When I enquired with the Tax Credit office I was told I can’t claim, as my area is a full service Universal Credit area.

Can I get help with childcare costs with Universal Credit like Tax Credits would pay?

I have no partner, I have one child aged three years old and my job is 16 hours a week, but I may be offered overtime.

A. Universal Credit will include payments towards any childcare costs provided you are working (there is no minimum amount of hours you must work).

If you are a couple, both of you must work, unless the other partner has limited capability for work or caring responsibilities.

In certain situations you can also be classed as in work, even if you are not actually doing your normal job – for example, periods on statutory sick pay, maternity/paternity leave.

The maximum amount of childcare costs is the lesser of 85% of the actual childcare costs during your assessment period, or £646.35 or £1,198.04 (if you have two or more children).

The DWP does have the power to restrict the amount if it believes the costs or excessive.

Any costs covered by a third party cannot be included in the calculation of the childcare costs element.

As with Tax Credits, you can only claim the costs of childcare if the child carer is registered as a childcare provider, such as Ofsted.

There are some practical issues around childcare costs and Universal Credit which may cause claimants problems.

These have been brought to the government’s attention and consequently may change.

The biggest issue, especially for those re-entering work, is that you must have paid for the costs of childcare before the costs are included in the Universal Credit claim.

This has the potential of people going into debt or not being able to go into work because they cannot meet the initial cost of getting childcare to enable themselves to start a job.