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Universal Credit - claiming childcare costs

Child and working tax credits will eventually be replaced by Universal Credit (UC), this includes the childcare element of tax credits.

However, if you claim these benefits your claim will not be changed to Universal Credit straight away. Until between late 2020 and late 2024 you should remain on the same benefits unless you have a change in circumstances. Universal Credit has further information about this and how the system works when you're looking after children.

Universal Credit - help with childcare

Help with childcare costs is included when your Universal Credit is worked out. You'll be able to claim back up to 85% of your actual paid out costs towards registered childcare. In any month this payment is capped so you could receive a maximum childcare payment:

  • £645.35 monthly for one child
  • £1,108.04 per month for 2 or more children

You must be working, or have an offer of paid work which starts soon, or the arrangement was made before your work ended. But there's no minimum number of hours. You're counted as working if you're on statutory maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay. Childcare costs can be claimed for at least a month after your employment ends, which can help you to maintain childcare as you move between jobs.

If you're part of a couple, to claim childcare costs your partner must also be in paid work, or be unable to provide child care because they are ill or disabled, or they are a carer for a severely disabled person, or they are temporarily away.

Childcare help applies to a child before 1 September following their 16th birthday.

The childcare provider you use must be OFSTED registered if you want to claim costs.

Reporting your costs

As Universal Credit is paid monthly, you need to report your child care costs monthly. This should be done at the latest by the end of the next UC 'assessment period' after the one in which you incurred the charges. You'll be expected to do this and all other management of your Universal Credit claim online.

Take care − you'll have to report your child care costs each month and they'll be paid back to you in arrears. If you report your costs too late, you may not receive them. Seek advice if you have problems claiming back childcare costs.

If you need to report a change in your circumstances a helpline is available on Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, tel: 0800 328 9344.

Child Benefit

Although tax credits will be combined with Universal Credit, Child Benefit will continue to be paid separately.

If your child is disabled

If your child is disabled you can still claim Disability Living Allowance alongside Universal Credit. If your child has exceptional care needs this may affect what's expected of you in terms of preparing for and looking for work so speak to job centre staff about this.