Universal Credit: Are you missing out on more than £13,000 of free childcare?

If a parent is claiming Universal Credit, they may be able to claim up to 85 percent of their childcare costs. This could be a maximum of £646 per month for one child, or up to £1,108 per month for two children or more. Usually, a parent can claim with a partner so long as both are in work. However, it may be possible to get childcare support if one person is not working and unable to provide childcare themselves because they have limited capability for work, have caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person or are temporarily absent from the household.


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To receive this support, Universal Credit will need to be received along with one of the following:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Maternity Allowance

To determine eligibility for childcare support, the claimant will need to speak to their designated work coach.

They will need to provide them with their personal details as well as information on the childcare provider and the full costs of their childcare.

It should be noted that, as with all universal credit payments, the childcare support is paid in arrears.

This means that the claimant will need to pay for the costs upfront themselves and then the Universal Credit system will pay the money back.

If these upfront costs are an issue it is possible to receive a flexible support fund to help. This will need to be discussed with the work coach.

Childcare support can be fairly flexible. It is possible to claim for childcare costs for the month before the claimant starts work if they have accepted a job offer.

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On the other side of this, if the claimant stops working DWP should be contacted because support with childcare costs can be claimed for at least a month after the employment ends.

This is designed to help maintain childcare while the claimant moves between jobs. The government appears to recognise that raising children while balancing work can be a difficult task.

As Will Quince, the Minister for Welfare Delivery, detailed: “Any working parent can appreciate the difficulties of having to balance a job with looking after the kids, and I want to make it easier for parents who want to go back to work after having children.


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“With Universal Credit, childcare payments are much more generous than the old benefit system. For lots of people childcare costs can be a barrier to going back to work, but I want parents to know that help and support is available.

“To see if you’re eligible for over a thousand pounds a month to help with childcare, visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk”

The government provides further support of childcare online. They provide tools to find nursery school places, registered childminders and early education schemes.

It should be noted that any changes in circumstances should be reported to the government as soon as possible.

Changes in circumstances could result in payments being reduced or even halted entirely if they’re not reported.

The Government detail that changes in circumstances can include:

  • Finding or finishing a job
  • Having a child
  • Moving in with a partner
  • Starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • Moving to a new address
  • Changing bank details
  • Rent going up or down
  • Changes to a health condition
  • Becoming too ill to work or meet a work coach
  • Changes to earnings for the self-employed

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