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Universal Credit

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 40868, tabled on 18 August 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of changing the universal credit childcare payments system to allow parents looking for work to claim costs upfront.

Answered on

10 September 2021

No assessment has been made. There is currently an on-going Judicial Review on Universal Credit childcare and the payment of upfront costs. An appeal hearing took place in the Court of Appeal in July and a decision is awaited. It is therefore not appropriate to comment directly on this matter at this time. It should be noted there are no changes to the current processes and the legislation remains the same.

Childcare costs should not be a barrier to getting into work – this Government is committed to helping parents into work. Universal Credit pays up to 85% of childcare costs for working parents, compared to 70% in legacy benefits, and childcare costs can be claimed up to a month before starting a job.

In cases where people need to pay for childcare upfront, prior to starting work, Work Coaches may be able to use the Flexible Support Fund for eligible claimants to meet these costs until their first wage is received. Budgeting advances are also available to eligible claimants who require help with upfront costs, for example when altering hours worked or changing childcare providers. Claimants on Universal Credit are encouraged to manage their own finances and budgets to better mirror the world of work and the majority of claimants can, and do, manage their childcare payments effectively.