ONE of the biggest barriers for parents getting back into work is how they’ll afford childcare.Our welfare expert Nichola Salvato helps answ
ONE of the biggest barriers for parents getting back into work is how they’ll afford childcare.
Our welfare expert Nichola Salvato helps answer your queries on childcare costs – and what you’re entitled to.
Working parents can get up to 85 per cent of childcare fees paid back on Universal Credit.
But this is paid in arrears, meaning many have to stump up hundreds of pounds up front.
Nichola is fighting for the government to change the rules so parents can get childcare costs paid upfront.
The Sun also wants the government to pay childcare fees upfront. It’s one of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign demands.
In the latest instalment of our Universal Credit Q&A Nichola, who has four years experience in welfare rights, answers a question from one worried single mum.
Do you have a question? Email [email protected]
I am a single mum of two and I’ve just completed my nursing degree. I currently claim Universal Credit and I have just been offered a well-paid, full time nursing job which would be perfect for me.
The problem is that I’ve only just discovered that I have to pay for one month of wrap around childcare upfront, which is going to be £1,700.
I won’t get any help for the costs of childcare for at least a month through Universal Credit.
I’ve been refused the Flexible Support Fund and Budgeting Loans. I literally have no spare money at all and I just can’t afford the childcare.
It means I’m going to have to turn this job down. I’m devastated, what can I do and how will I ever be able to get out of the benefit trap if I can’t afford childcare? Please help.
Esther via email.
Nichola replies: I’m so very sorry to hear about your predicament! After having worked so hard at university and to have been offered a job so quickly you have done incredibly well.
Now you’ve realised you can’t accept the job. It must be devastating.
At the moment Brits on Universal Credit can get up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs back, but they have to pay the costs upfront.
I, and many other women can completely relate to your situation. In fact, I got into £1,000 debt trying to take on a new job.
Unfortunately, the only good news I can give you about this issue is that there has been ongoing campaigning by The Sun, as well as many other bodies to get this rule changed
The Sun is arguing as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign for help for those costs to be paid upfront.
I am in the process of taking the government to court over this issue, with the support of Save the Children, Gingerbread, CPAG and a number of professional childcare associations.
The hearing starts at the High Court starts tomorrow. I believe the rule is irrational and discriminatory.
I am really optimistic about the outcome of the case. If we are successful then the DWP may be forced to change the rules – and it could help half a million families.
Right now, I would suggest firstly asking family or friends if they can help for the first month. I know this isn’t a long term solution – but hopefully it could be a short term stop gap.
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Next, speak to your prospective employer and ask whether they are able to hire you part-time so your upfront costs would be lower.
The last resort would be to borrow money – but make sure you do your research and find the best rate on any cash that you borrow.
I wish you all the very best. Y
You can follow Nichola on Twitter – @SalvatoNichola