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Updated on 6 April 2023

Universal credit childcare support: who can claim

Childcare support in universal credit is paid through the childcare element. To qualify for this you need to meet the basic and financial conditions of universal credit and also meet the conditions for the childcare element of universal credit.

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You can find out more about the basic and financial conditions of universal credit in our universal credit section.

Claiming childcare costs

The childcare element can be claimed towards childcare costs for a child or qualifying young person the claimant is treated as responsible for. DWP's guidance says that childcare is only payable for children up to and including the assessment period prior to the assessment period which includes 1 September following the child’s 16th birthday.

We explain how to calculate childcare costs for universal credit in our How much is it section.

The childcare element conditions

An amount for childcare costs can only be included in an award of universal credit where you satisfy two conditions:

  • The work condition
  • The childcare costs condition

Work condition

The work condition requires you to be in paid work or that you are due to start that work before the end of the next assessment period.

If you are part of a couple, both members of that couple have to be in paid work. There is an exception to this where one member of the couple is not working and is unable to provide childcare themselves because they have ceased paid work in:

  • that assessment period, or
  • the previous assessment period, or
  • the month immediately preceding the commencement of a new award but only where the assessment period in question is either the first assessment period or second assessment period following the commencement of the new award

Or, they are receiving:

  • Statutory sick pay,
  • Statutory maternity pay,
  • Statutory paternity pay,
  • Statutory adoption pay,
  • Statutory parental bereavement leave,
  • Statutory shared parental pay or
  • Maternity allowance

Example

Asha is receiving Statutory sick pay whilst off work sick. She claims universal credit and her award starts on 6 March 2023. Asha is treated as in paid work and so can claim childcare costs in that assessment period.

Childcare costs condition

To meet this condition you must pay a childcare cost. The cost condition is met if you have paid a charge for the relevant childcare of a child or qualifying young person that you have responsibility for (for the period up to and including the assessment period prior to the assessment period which includes 1 September following the child's 16th birthday).

In addition, the childcare charges must be attributable to that assessment period.

We explain more about what childcare charges can be claimed and for what period in How much is it

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