Childcare and universal credit

The cost of raising a child is rising every year. From food to toiletries, the costs soon add up and can leave families with children needing extra support. Childcare is also on the rise and a lot of families also need help when it comes to this so that they can work while having childcare in place. Here is everything you need to know about claiming childcare while on universal credit.

childcare uc

How much can you claim?

The first thing you need to know is that you can claim up to 85% of costs if you are on Universal Credit. This equates to a max of £646.35 for one child per month and a max of £1108.04 for two children per month. Remember childcare costs cover a child of up to 16 years old. You pay for the childcare upfront and then you will receive the money back from Universal Credit. You have to get in touch with the Department for work and pensions before the end of the assessment period to let them know how much you have paid for childcare and will need to show proof of doing so.

You will then get paid back the childcare which has already taken place during this time; if you pay a full term then you will receive this once the childcare has taken place in the months to come. You can opt to have the payment over three assessment periods.

If you need help paying the childcare provider upfront if they require for example a term in advance, you could enquire with your work coach to find out if you could be entitled to the flexible support fund or get an advance that will need to be paid back.

What happens if I get a job?

You can claim for childcare the month before you start work and should get in touch if the job does end as you can claim in-between jobs. Remember the amount of universal credit will change when you earn more which will also affect your childcare allowance. Childcare vouchers are not included when working out your childcare allowance.

What about my partner?

You can claim together for childcare support while on universal credit but both need to be working unless one of you is unable to work for reasons such as caring for another or limited capability. Remember working needs to be paid work where you receive money unless you are on statutory sick pay or maternity leave for example.

Does it have to be a specific form of childcare?

You need to be receiving childcare through a verified provider. Whether this is a nursery, a childminder or a playgroup, they need to be an approved provider and should be able to give you the registration number which you then need to give to the Department for Work and Pensions. Remember when you are informing them of the cost of childcare, you can do this through your Universal Credit account.


What about 15 or 30 hours of free childcare?

All children in the United Kingdom are allowed 15 hours of free childcare the term after their child has turned 3. If you are on Universal Credit, you might be able to claim 30 hours of free childcare once your child has turned 3 years old.

You can use our universal credit calculator to work out how much you may be entitled to.