To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the (a) affordability and (b) adequacy of provision of childcare for parents subject to the benefit cap.
The Department for Work and Pensions has not undertaken a specific assessment of the affordability and adequacy of provision of childcare for parents subject to the benefit cap. As part of its evaluation of the benefit cap policy, we have commissioned the National Centre for Social Research to conduct a survey of capped households to assess the effects of the cap on claimants’ behaviours toward employment and the drivers behind different responses to the cap, which will include childcare availability and costs. We anticipate publishing the findings in the Autumn.
The department recognises that high childcare costs can be a real barrier to parents taking up employment or increasing their working hours. To help overcome this, Universal Credit is more generous than legacy benefits in the support it provides towards childcare costs, with an increased level of support for childcare costs from 70% in legacy to up to 85% in Universal Credit.
In addition, significant work has been undertaken within the department to raise awareness and understanding of the UC Childcare Offer amongst work coaches and work continues across Government to support take up of the different childcare offers, ensuring information is readily accessible for parents, providers and employers, including via digital channels. The Government now provides more support than ever before to help parents with the costs of childcare and will be spending a record amount of around £6 billion on childcare support in 2019-20.