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Universal Credit

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 282562, tabled on 25 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her oral evidence of 24 July 2019 to the Work and Pensions Committee on increased support with upfront childcare costs on Wednesday 24 July, whether work coaches will be given greater flexibility to use the Flexible Support Fund.

Answered on

5 September 2019

Work Coaches can use the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) to 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. This is paid directly to the childcare providers and is not repayable. Examples of what it can be used to cover include:

  • Deposit – To pay a provider a one off advance payment of childcare costs.
  • Retainer – To pay a provider a one off advance payment to secure the nursery provision prior to the parent starting work or training.
  • Fees – To pay a provider upfront childcare fees in advance of the service being delivered; and
  • Taster/Settling in periods – To pay a provider a one off advance payment to enable the parent to prepare their child before taking up the full childcare offer.

Once a claimant has received their first wage, we have given Work Coaches the flexibility to use Budgeting Advances to help pay for further upfront childcare costs where required and where a claimant is eligible. This includes - during school holidays, change of childcare provider, or additional childcare in order to increase work hours. Budgeting Advances do have to be repaid, however, up to 85% of these childcare costs can be reimbursed through the UC childcare offer (up to caps) once a paid receipt is submitted.