Universal Credit UK: Childcare support rules explained as costs rise by over £7,000 a year

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Universal Credit payments are tailored towards a claimant’s circumstances, with additional funding being provided for certain expenses such as housing and childcare costs. Extra amounts can be awarded for having children as well as childcare costs.

This is important to note as yesterday Coram Family and Childcare released its 21st annual childcare survey, showing prices have risen above inflation “once again”.

The survey revealed part time nursery places (25 hours) for a child under the age of two costs four percent more than it did a year ago, at £138 per week, or over £7,000 per year, with costs for children older than two costing five percent more.

On top of this, it was found:

  • Working parents of three and four year olds in England and Wales can get 30 hours of funded childcare a week. If they need to pay for 20 extra hours to take this up to a full time place (50 hours a week) the average price in a nursery will be £101.58 in England, £89.12 in Wales.
  • In Scotland, all families are entitled to 600 hours of funded childcare per year. If they need to pay for an extra 34 hours a week to take this up to a full time place (50 hours a week), the average price in a nursery will be £145.70. By August 2021, all three and four year olds in Scotland will be able to access 1,140 hours of funded childcare per year which will reduce costs for families.
  • The average weekly price for families using an after school club for five days per week, in Great Britain, is £62.13 per week.
  • In 99 percent of local areas, the average price of a full time nursery place for a child under two is higher than the maximum costs supported through universal credit and the benefits system

For Universal Credit claimants, it will be possible to receive help with this, with extra amounts awarded on top of a standard allowance if they have children.

Claimants will get extra cash if they have one or two children.

Extra money will only be awarded to those with more than two children if the children were born before April 6 2017, if the claimant was already claiming for three or more children before April 6 2017 and other exceptions apply.

Extra amounts will be awarded for any disabled children, no matter how many children a claimant has or when they were born.

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The following amounts will be awarded for children:

  • For a first child – £281.25 per month for children born before April 6 2017, or £235.83 for children born on or after April 6 2017
  • For a child and any other eligible children – £253.83 per child
  • For a disabled or severely disabled child – £128.25 or £400.29
  • Help with childcare costs – up to 85 percent of costs covered (up to £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for two or more children)

Help can be received for childcare if it’s provided by a registered childminder, nanny, playscheme, nursery or club, childminder or nanny with a registered childminder agency or childcare agency, registered school or home care worker working for a registered home care agency.

This is known as “approved childcare”.

Support can also be received for childcare at school, although it is only possible to get help paying for care that is outside school hours.

This could cover after school clubs or breakfast clubs, it cannot help with compulsory education or private lessons during school time.

Tax-free childcare can also be received (in England or Scotland) by those who are getting childcare supported by a relative if they’re a registered childminder and the care is provided outside the home.

There is a limit on this however and it is not possible to claim for anymore than 30 hours of childcare.

Claimants in Northern Ireland and Wales will face slightly different rules.

Foster carers can also receive childcare support from Universal Credit and full details on this can be found on the Government’s website.

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