Support with the costs of childcare is available through Universal Credit via Universal Credit: childcare guide - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Help with childcare costs
If you work, you could get extra Universal credit to help with your childcare costs. You can claim as soon as you start paying for childcare, and only for the amounts that are actually paid by you.
Who can qualify?
You’re a lone parent
You must work 16 hours or more a week to claim help with childcare costs.
You’re part of a couple
Generally you and your partner must both work 16 hours or more a week to claim help. Only one of you has to work 16 hours or more if the
‘incapacitated’ – this means they’re ill or disabled and getting certain benefits, or in certain circumstances National Insurance credits
in prison – serving a custodial sentence or remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence
entitled to Carer’s Allowance – even if they don’t get any payments because they receive other benefits instead
You’re off work – can you still claim?
There are situations where you can still claim for help with childcare costs. These are explained below.
You’re on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
If you were working at least 16 hours a week immediately before you went on leave – and any of the following apply:
you get maternity allowance
you’re on ordinary maternity or adoption leave
you’re in the first 13 weeks of additional maternity or adoption leave
you’re on your 2 weeks of paternity leave
How much help you can get:
You can get help with up to 85% of your childcare costs – up to certain limits.
If you pay childcare for:
one child, the maximum childcare cost you can claim is £646 a month
two or more children, the maximum cost you can claim is £1108 a month
It’s important to know that:
different income limits apply depending on your circumstances – for example if you have a large family the income limit could be higher
you need to make a claim to get a definite answer to how much you are entitled to
You can use ‘at a glance’ entitlement tables to get a rough idea of the help you could get. These tables show yearly amounts of tax credits based on different amounts of income – but they don’t cover every situation.
If you want a better idea of how much you could get, there’s also an online tax credits calculator you can use.
Childcare costs you can’t claim for through tax credits
You can’t claim for:
payment from your employer towards your childcare costs, either in cash or vouchers – this includes vouchers in return for a reduction in your pay (known as a ‘salary sacrifice’)
free early learning or nursery education – for example the 15 hours a week free early years education for 3 and 4 year olds in England
payments from the government towards your childcare costs because you are a student, or you are starting work
If your employer offers you childcare vouchers. There is an online calculator to help you decide whether you’re better off taking the vouchers
For more information about Universal credit go to :
Universal Credit Helpline – 08003285644
Opening hours - 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday