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Childcare

On Universal Credit, you can claim help with childcare costs to enable you to work or increase your working hours. You can be eligible for help with childcare costs until the 31st August after your child turns 16, regardless of the number of hours that you work.

This page covers:

Who can claim help with childcare on Universal Credit?

If you pay for registered childcare when you go to work, you can receive a childcare costs element. While there is no minimum requirement of hours you must work, you must be in paid employment and Universal Credit will look at whether your childcare costs are reasonable.

 

If you are part of a couple, both of you must be in paid employment or treated as in paid work to receive help with childcare costs, unless the non-working partner:

  • Has limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity, or

  • Has regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person and receives the carer element of Universal Credit, or

  • Is temporarily absent from your household (for example, they are in residential care, hospital or in prison).​

Note: If you are on a single claim, you must be in paid employment, self-employed or treated as in paid work to receive help with childcare costs.

You can be treated as in paid work if you are in receipt of one of the following:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

  • Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP)

  • Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

  • Maternity Allowance (MA)

What is registered childcare?

You must be paying childcare costs to registered or approved childcare providers.
This means that generally the childcare provider should be registered with the relevant organisation

England – OFSTED

Scotland – The Care Inspectorate

Wales – Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW)

Northern Ireland - Health and Social Care Trust

How much childcare can I claim?

Universal Credit will help with up to 85% of your childcare costs to a maximum of:

  • £646.35 for one child

  • £1108.04 for two or more children

If you end up in a situation where you are paying arrears of childcare then be careful that you do not end up going over the childcare limit caps (646.35/£1108.04) because you will not benefit from the full 85%.

Reporting Childcare

The first time you report childcare costs to Universal Credit you will be asked to provide details of your childcare provider and may be asked for evidence.

Every payment of childcare needs to be reported on your UC online account (log in and go to 'report a change', then select childcare, add payment and submit).

You should report each payment on your UC account when you make the payment and you may be asked for evidence of each childcare payment.

What evidence is required?

To receive help with childcare costs you will need to provide Universal Credit information about your childcare provider, including:

  • Their full name and registration number

  • Full contact details including their address and telephone number 

  • The full cost of your childcare

The following documents can be used as evidence as long as they are dated and contain the relevant registration number: 

  • A childcare contract

  • Invoice from the childcare provider

  • Letter from the childcare provider

When reporting childcare costs you may be asked to provide proof of these and will need to do so within one calendar month. Help towards childcare will not be included in your claim until proof is provided. It's advised to keep your evidence for two years as Universal Credit may request evidence at a later date. If you are asked to verify your costs you will need to provide one of the following documents as evidence:

  • Letter or letter headed invoice from the registered childcare provide which must be

    • be unaltered

    • be dated and annotated as being paid, and

    • show the childcare costs amount actually paid

If your invoice is not marked as ‘paid’, you will need to provide a bank statement or a cash receipt to confirm how much you've paid and when.

  • Bank or credit card statement which must show

    • the actual amount paid

    • the date when the costs were paid

    • the provider name as the recipient

Similarly detailed ATM bank receipts can be accepted.

 

  • Cash payment receipt

    • hand-written receipts are acceptable as a last resort, but they need to show the provider name

The cash receipt must show both the date and amount you paid. 

Calculating your childcare

If you're trying to calculate 85% of your childcare costs, the easiest way is to use a calculator and multiply the amount you paid by 0.85. 

For example, if you paid £300 towards childcare, you would do 300 x 0.85 = 255. So your childcare element will be £255.

NOTE: Universal Credit will only pay for childcare that has already taken place. So if you are paying for childcare in advance, you may find you receive less than you are expecting on your first payment. 

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