Universal Credit claimants given longer to claim back childcare costs
By Rachel Lawler
The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that Universal Credit claimants will now have longer to claim back the cost of childcare.
Previously, Universal Credit claimants needed to report the amount spent on childcare within the same assessment period in order to claim it back. As of this month, claimants now have until the end of the next assessment period to report their childcare costs. This gives people two months instead of one to claim back the cost of childcare.
Parents missing out
Last month, The Mirror reported that the system was due to change following complaints that parents were missing the deadline for claiming and missing out on up to £1,100 a month in childcare costs.
However, the Alliance has warned that the change does not go far enough, with many families still struggling to pay for childcare upfront and waiting to claim it back.
Paying in arrears
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “The change that providers and parents really wanted to see was help with making childcare payments up front. However useful this latest change is to parents, my worry is that, without support for those initial up front costs, any impact it has will be limited.
“At the moment providers are forced to choose between allowing parents to pay in arrears or refuse places for families on Universal Credit. It’s not fair to ask providers to shoulder the risk of non-payment by allowing parents who could already be struggling with Universal Credit-related repayments to build up further debt and it’s not right that poorer children, who stand to gain the most from childcare, are in danger of missing out on it completely.
“Sadly, that’s the situation current government policy is creating. It doesn’t have to be this way but, to fix it, ministers need to look seriously at ensuring there is upfront financial support for Universal Credit claimants who need childcare.”