More families to get childcare help under Universal Credit

7 Oct 11
Childcare support is to be extended to 80,000 more households as part of the welfare reforms, ministers said today.

By Vivienne Russell | 7 October 2011

Childcare support is to be extended to 80,000 more households as part of the welfare reforms, ministers said today.

The government will add £300m to the £2bn already committed to childcare under the Universal Credit programme, which combines all benefits into one.

The move means all families receiving Universal Credit will be eligible for help with childcare costs. Currently, this is available only to households working for 16 hours or more.

Families will be able to recover 70% of their childcare costs – up to £175 a week for one child, or £300 a week for two or more children.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said help with childcare costs was a ‘lifeline’ for families, and particularly ‘mums who want to get back into work’.

He said: ‘We all know how difficult it is sometimes to juggle family and work but this is really good news, especially for lone parents and mums up and down the country.’

Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith added: ‘We are determined to help more parents take their first steps into work, but under the current minimum hours rule, parents are trapped in state dependency without the childcare support they badly need – providing yet another barrier to work.’

Childcare and child poverty campaigners, including the Daycare Trust and Child Poverty Action Group, welcomed the change, saying the government had listened to parent’s concerns. A statement issued today by the chief executives of 12 organisations said: ‘Adequate help with childcare is fundamental to the success of the government’s welfare reforms, and ministers’ willingness to change their proposals in the face of strong evidence is to be welcomed. This announcement means that most parents will receive no less childcare support under Universal Credit than they do under Tax Credits today.’

But it added that the poorest working families, who receive 95.5% of their childcare costs through Housing Benefit income disregards, would still experience a significant reduction in support.

‘We would like to see further incentives for parents to work, with an increase in the proportion of childcare costs covered, starting with an increase to 80% as soon as possible.’

Other signatories to the statement included Working Families, 4Children, Citizens Advice and the Fawcett Society.


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