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Volunteering: Volunteers

Universal Credit childcare costs


If you pay for childcare while you go to work, Universal Credit can pay some of your childcare costs.


How childcare costs payments work on Universal Credit

You have to pay for your childcare costs yourself. Then you report them to Universal Credit, and Universal Credit pays some of the money back.

You will only get the money back after the childcare actually happens.

If you pay for childcare after it’s been provided, we pay back your costs in the same month that you report them.

You can claim back up to 3 months of past childcare costs at a time - but if you’re claiming for more than one month you might not get all the money back.

You can also claim back up to 3 months of future childcare costs at a time. We pay these costs back month by month - not in one lump sum.

Payments for childcare costs are included in your total monthly Universal Credit payment. That total payment can go up or down, depending on how much you earn from work. So, if you earn more than usual one month, your total Universal Credit payment might go down, including the amount you get for childcare costs.


How much you can get

You can get up to 85% of childcare costs paid back to you. The maximum amount a month is:

  • £646.35 for one child

  • £1,108.04 for 2 or more children


Get help with the upfront cost of childcare

You need to pay for childcare first. If you cannot pay that upfront cost, you might be able to get help with that too. Ask about:

  • money from the Flexible Support Fund (you do not need to pay this back)

  • an advance from Universal Credit (you have to pay this back)


Who is eligible for Universal Credit childcare costs

You need to be either:

  • in paid work

  • starting a job in the next month

If you live with a partner, you both need to be in paid work, unless your partner cannot look after your children.

It does not matter how many hours you work – there is no minimum.

It must be paid work, so you’re not eligible if you are volunteering and only getting money for expenses.

If you’re on sick leave, you may also be eligible if you’re getting Statutory Sick Pay

If you’re on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, you may also be eligible if you’re receiving certain types of pay or allowance.

You can claim childcare costs for all the children you’re responsible for, until the 31 August after their 16th birthday.


If your partner does not work but cannot look after your children

You can still claim childcare costs if your partner:

  • has a health condition or disability which means they have limited capability for work (LCW) or limited capability for work related activity (LCWRA)

  • cares for a severely disabled person (and is eligible for Carer’s Allowance)

  • has to be away from home temporarily, for example in hospital


What childcare costs can cover

Your childcare must be with ‘registered’ childcare providers. Usually that means they registered with OFSTED.

That could include nurseries, preschools, after-school clubs, breakfast clubs, childminders, nannies and holiday clubs.

Universal Credit will cover ‘reasonable’ childcare costs that help you work or get into work.

Childcare for changing work patterns or zero-hours contracts can also be considered ‘reasonable’.

For example, if you have to pay childcare costs so that you are available to work your usual hours, and then you actually get less work hours than you expected, that’s considered ‘reasonable’.

How to report your childcare costs

You usually report your childcare costs in your online Universal Credit account. You can do this when you first make a claim, or at any point in your claim.

Report them as soon as you pay for them. If you leave it for longer than 2 months, you might not get the money back.

Evidence for your childcare costs

You will need to have proof of your childcare provider and payments.

Further details can be found at

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