Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Child Care Costs Element

Help towards childcare costs within Universal Credit is included in the Universal Credit payment - the DWP will include a Childcare Costs Element when the claimant's maximum Universal Credit figure is assessed.

How much help does a claimant get?

If they meet the qualifying conditions, claimants can 'claim back' up to 85% of their childcare costs up to an upper limit. There are two upper limits depending on whether the childcare is being paid in respect of one, or two or more children.

The maximum Childcare Costs Element allowable is:

 £646.35 - 85% of £760.42 per month for one child, or 

£1108.04 - 85% of £1303.57 per month for two or more children.

So when working out the amount of the Childcare Costs Element work out 85% of the total monthly eligible childcare costs, multiply by 85% and if the result is less than the maximum outlined above then that will be the amount of the Childcare Costs Element, it the result is above the maximum, then the maximum will be the amount of the Childcare Costs Element.


Deon is a lone parent with one child age 3. He pays £1000 a month to a local nursery who look after his son whilst he is at work. He claims UC. Although 75% of £1000 is £850, as this is above the upper limit for one child, his max UC award will include a Childcare Costs Element of £646.35. 

NOTE: If using our basic UC Calculator - just enter the total amount of monthly childcare - the calculator will do the rest!

Childcare Costs Element qualifying conditions

The Universal Credit Regulations (Regulation 31) confirm that to have the Childcare Costs Element included in the monthly assessment of Universal Credit the claimant must meet both a work condition and a childcare costs condition - including having paid for the childcare (the payment condition).

To satisfy the WORK condition:

  • The claimant must work or about to start paid work before the end of the next Monthly Assessment Period (MAP). There are no minimum hours that claimants have to be working.
  • If in a couple, both must be working unless: one has a limited capability for work or work related activity; or is a carer for 35 hours a week or more for a severely disabled person or child; or is temporarily absent from home e.g. prison, hospital.

To satisfy the CHILDCARE COSTS condition:

  • The claimant must pay childcare charges for a child or qualifying young person they are responsible for. Help with childcare is payable for children under 16, and if they are 16 - up to and including the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) prior to the assessment period which includes 1st September following the child’s 16th birthday.
  • The claimant must pay childcare charges to enable the claimant/s to work. These charges must be paid to a registered or approved provider e.g. registered with Ofsted. Childcare provided by a ‘close relative’ in the child’s home is not included.

To satisfy the PAYMENT condition:

  • The claimant must have paid for the childcare within the current, or previous two, Monthly Assessment Periods.
  • The claimant must have received that childcare.

To satisfy the NOTIFICATION condition:

  • The claimant must have reported the childcare received by the end of the Monthly Assessment Period to which the costs are attributable. This means either:
    • costs paid in the current assessment period for childcare received in the current assessment period;
    • costs paid in the current assessment period for childcare received in any previous assessment period; or
    • costs for childcare received in the current assessment period which have been paid in advance in either of the two previous assessment periods.