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Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is available to parents who are returning to work from parental leave who have to pay childcare costs upfront and get reimbursed in arrears under universal credit.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to provide the childcare element of universal credit to eligible parents before they pay high childcare costs without any support; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Government is committed to supporting parents with moving into work and, as part of this, we increased the level of support for childcare costs from 70 per cent in legacy benefits to up to 85 per cent in Universal Credit (UC). The UC childcare policy aligns with the wider government childcare offer, which includes free childcare hours and tax free childcare and UC claimants can utilise both the free childcare entitlement and UC childcare costs in conjunction with each other for relevant hours. This offer means that reasonable childcare costs should not form a barrier to work.

The UC childcare policy aligns with the wider government childcare offer, which includes free childcare hours and tax free childcare and UC claimants can utilise both the free childcare entitlement and UC childcare costs in conjunction with each other for relevant hours. This offer means that reasonable childcare costs should not form a barrier to work.

Beyond the UC childcare element, claimants can be considered for two additional methods of funding childcare costs: the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) and Budgeting Advances.

Work Coaches can support individual claimants with barriers that may prevent them from moving into employment. Each case is considered carefully on its own merits with financial help available to eligible claimants in advance for childcare. Where agreed, FSF will pay 100% of the upfront childcare costs up to the payment limits set that the claimant incurs between starting work and receiving their first wage.

A budgeting advance is available for one-off urgent financial events for eligible UC claimants, such as upfront childcare, and is repayable over a period of up to 12 monthly instalments. Only one Budgeting Advance will be paid at a time and further advances will be unavailable until the balance of the previous Budgeting Advance is cleared.

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