To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether a parent is able to make a claim under the childcare element of (a) universal credit and (b) tax credits for the cost of a retainer fee paid to keep their child's place in a childcare setting that has been forced to close due to covid-19 restrictions.
2 November 2020
Parents claiming Universal Credit (UC) who satisfy both the work condition and childcare conditions are eligible to have their childcare costs reimbursed if:
- they have a contract of employment and are still being paid;
- childcare is being provided during that assessment period; and
- childcare providers are registered or approved.
If a childcare provider is forced to close due to Covid-19 and unable to provide childcare for parents, the UC Childcare eligibility conditions will not be satisfied because childcare is not being provided.
Under Working Tax Credits, the childcare element is usually only provided where a child is receiving childcare. If a child was not receiving childcare, HMRC wouldn’t expect a provider to continue to charge. HMRC will continue to pay childcare costs to those in receipt of the childcare element of Working Tax Credits who continued to pay childcare fees, despite their children being unable to access childcare because of COVID-19 for a maximum of 4 weeks.
The government continues to pay funding to local authorities in England for the free childcare entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds during the period of closures due to Covid-19. This funding has continued to be paid to providers to ensure there remains sufficient childcare for all those who need it. For the Autumn term, childcare will be funded at the level we would have done had the pandemic not occurred. These entitlements cannot be accrued for time not spent in the childcare setting and so parents will not be able to carry over unused hours for use later in the year.