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Updated on 6 April 2024

Universal credit childcare support: how to claim

Help with the costs of childcare in universal credit is done by including the childcare element. Universal credit is available across the UK and HMRC state that it is no longer possible to make a brand new claim for tax credits. If you currently get tax credits, you may be able to get the childcare element of working tax credit if you start paying for childcare costs.

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Claiming universal credit

Universal credit claims are normally made online. If you cannot make an online claim then you can telephone the DWP. You can find out more about claiming universal credit in our universal credit section.

How to claim childcare costs

Childcare costs can be included in your universal credit claim providing you notify DWP of any costs incurred within the relevant time limit (see below) and those costs are attributable to your assessment period.

You should tell DWP about your childcare costs via your universal credit online journal. You will also need to provide proof of costs such as invoices and receipts from your childcare provider – your work coach should tell you how to do this.

Time-limits for notifying childcare costs

From June 2023, universal credit claimants with childcare costs have been able to claim these upfront when moving into work or increasing their hours.

Since 16 October 2019, you need to notify DWP about your childcare costs by the end of the assessment period following the assessment period in which you paid them.

DWP have said that if you pay for your costs in assessment period 1 (AP1) but report them in AP2, and also report and pay for further costs (occurring in AP2) in AP2 – depending on what the period covered is, the universal credit childcare element covering costs for AP1 will be paid through an ad-hoc payment if the AP1 award payment has already been made. The costs occurring in the separate assessment periods are not added together for the purposes of reaching the childcare element cap.


Ronnie has childcare costs of £300 a month that he pays on the 26th of each month. His universal credit assessment period runs from 10th of each month and ends on the 9th of the following month. For the amount Ronnie paid on 26 January to be included as childcare costs he must notify DWP of that expenditure before the 9th March, ie he paid the costs in the assessment period 10 January to 9 February and he has until the end of the following assessment period to notify DWP.

Late notification of childcare costs

It may be possible to be paid for childcare costs that are reported late if DWP accept that there were special circumstances that led to the delay.

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