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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Covid-19 issues  →  Thread

Childcare in UC only to be paid for critical workers during COVID-19

Daphne
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DWP have updated their ‘understanding universal credit’ pages to say -

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit, any childcare costs that you have paid for and reported, for childcare that has been provided, will be reimbursed as part of your Universal Credit claim as normal. Any childcare costs that you have paid for and intend to report, for childcare that has been provided, will also be reimbursed as part of your claim as normal.

Whilst the government’s response to coronavirus is in place, unless you are a critical worker you will not be able to access Universal Credit childcare.

Employment and benefits support
New to universal credit

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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What is the legality of this?
Lots of people who cannot work from home are still having to go to work even if not a critical worker and if their childcare provider is still accepting them (as it is not school) why?

Charles
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This guidance is referring to cases where the child is not actually attending, but the parent is paying a retainer or contractual fee. This will be the case, as even private childcare providers who are registered can only take children of key workers.

Reg 35 of the UC Regs when defining what is considered “relevant childcare” refers to “care provided”, which does appear to back DWP up.

The truth is, I think this is actually the legal position for tax credits and the HB childcare disregard too. Tax Credit guidance from before coronavirus is also explicit that payments for childcare not actually used cannot be covered by tax credits.

We do know however that HMRC however are being easier about this and are allowing the costs (as long as they are still being paid of course) to be included for tax credits. Housing Benefit is not so clear what is happening in practice. Some LAs have confirmed they will include a childcare disregard for such costs, but I’ve not seen any confirmation that all LAs are. See here for example.

[ Edited: 29 Apr 2020 at 04:15 pm by Charles ]
Daphne
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I agree there are issues about when childcare is not provided but this sentence -

Whilst the government’s response to coronavirus is in place, unless you are a critical worker you will not be able to access Universal Credit childcare.

- appears to say that there is no childcare support if you’re not critical worker - nothing about if it’s not provided. I have emailed for clarification…

Charles
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I think the second link you posted above contains some more detailed information in the next section headed “Paying for childcare in advance during coronavirus” which is pretty explicit about the need for the childcare to actually be provided.

The government have closed all registered settings except for the children of key workers, and you can only claim childcare for registered settings, so it is correct that it is not possible to claim for childcare if you’re not a key worker.

This matches up with a fair number of messages from work coaches I have seen recently.

WillH
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Whilst it might be unlikely for UC claimants, what if you had a nanny (registered of course) who continues to provide childcare even tho claimant is not a critical worker?

it’s an outlying scenario, I realise. But my reading of this is that if you already get the childcare element, you can continue to do so, you can’t START to get the UC childcare element…although what would legally prevent it, I’m not sure if you were in fact using ‘relevant childcare’ & paying for it etc.

Vonny
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Has this changed now everyone in England are supposed to go back to work?

Daphne
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DWP has just updated its guidance -

Childcare costs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

If you are getting Universal Credit, you will be repaid costs for childcare that has taken place and you have already paid for.

You will continue to be repaid childcare costs with your Universal Credit if you are a critical worker or if you are a non-critical worker who has access to registered childcare.