Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will made an assessment of the potential merits of enabling working parents on low incomes that are eligible to claim for childcare costs under universal credit, to receive that support in advance.

Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to reduce upfront childcare costs for low income families in receipt of universal credit.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Government has increased the level of support for childcare costs from 70 per cent in legacy benefits, to 85 per cent within Universal Credit. This means that working families claiming Universal Credit can reclaim up to 85 per cent of their eligible childcare costs each month, up to a maximum of £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for two or more children.

DWP continues to improve the Universal Credit experience for claimants and to ensure that they are supported throughout their journey. For those with children, this includes ensuring that help with up front childcare costs is available for Universal Credit households with a low income.

Claimants with a firm job offer can claim Universal Credit childcare costs up to 1 month prior to starting work to enable their children to settle into a new routine. We also offer extra support to enable parents to pay upfront childcare costs or deposits: for example, claimants may be eligible to receive an advance of their future Universal Credit entitlement, which is interest free. Work coaches and claimants work together to ensure that, where this is taken up, repayments are affordable and manageable.

If a budgeting advance is not appropriate, the Flexible Support Fund may also provide assistance. Payments from this fund are non-repayable, and are managed locally to provide tailored and targeted support for claimants to move into work.

Since February 2018, Universal Credit claimants have been able to upload digital copies of their childcare cost receipts or invoices through their online Universal Credit account, all of which make it even easier for claimants to apply for Universal Credit.

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