Universal Credit childcare costs

Universal Credit provides support to households to help meet eligible childcare costs, to help you to take up work or increase your working hours.


Universal Credit pays up to 85% of the childcare costs you pay, up to a monthly limit of £646.35 for 1 child or £1108.04 for 2 or more children and this will be included in your Universal Credit payments.

To get support for childcare costs under Universal Credit, the childcare you pay for must be provided by a registered childcare provider.  This means the childcare provider must be registered with the relevant Health and Social Care Trust.

Qualifying for help with childcare costs 

You can only get help with childcare costs under Universal Credit if you, or both you and your partner have a joint claim:

  • are in paid work
  • pay for childcare for the relevant child or young person

Paid work

To get help with childcare costs you, or you and your partner if you have a joint claim, must:

  • be in paid work (employed or self-employed) or
  • have accepted an offer of paid work due to start before the end of the next assessment period or
  • have stopped paid work in the current or previous assessment period, or
  • be in the first or second assessment period of a new claim, and stopped paid work no more than one calendar month before the date of your initial claim

If you or your partner are absent from work, you can still get Universal Credit childcare costs for existing childcare if either of you are receiving any of the following

Childcare costs may be paid if one partner is working and the other can’t look after the child or children because they:

  • have limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work related activity, or
  • care for a severely disabled adult or severely disabled child, or
  • are temporarily absent from the household (for example, in hospital, residential care or in custody)

Pay for childcare  

To get help with childcare costs, you or you and your partner in a joint claim must:

  • be responsible for a child or qualifying young person
  • have paid for and reported charges for relevant childcare in the assessment period in which they were paid

Assessment periods

Universal Credit is assessed and paid in arrears, on a twice monthly basis into your nominated bank or building society account. Your personal circumstances will be assessed to work out the amount of Universal Credit you will get.

Your first assessment period will start on the date that you make your claim. The assessment period will last one calendar month.

You will usually receive your first payment 7 days after the end of your first assessment period and the second twice monthly payment 14 days later. You will then be paid on the same dates each month.

For example,  Jane makes a claim to Universal Credit on 14 March. Her Assessment Period runs from 14 March to 13 April.  She will receive her first Universal Credit twice monthly payment on 20 April,  and her second twice monthly payment on 4 May.  She will continue to receive her twice monthly payments on these dates every month.

Information you need to provide us with

To get help with childcare costs, you must give the following information about the childcare for each child:

  • childcare provider’s full name and childcare registration number
  • full contact details of the childcare provider, including address and telephone number 
  • address where the child is being looked after 
  • the full cost of the childcare per month
  • Any of the documents listed below can be accepted as evidence to verify a childcare provider:  

- Childcare contract

- Letter from the childcare provider

- Letter headed invoice from the childcare provider. 

If you use more than one childcare provider, you must provide details of each one. 

If you qualify for help with childcare costs, you must report the actual costs paid in each assessment period, as soon as you pay them, even if the costs haven't changed from the previous month.

You must provide evidence of the actual dates that each payment for childcare covers (e.g. 02/01/19 to 29/01/19).

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