The rules about help with childcare costs are set out in the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013).

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

Work condition

Regulation 32 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out what work you, and your partner if you have one, must be doing to qualify for help, and provides for when you can be treated as meeting it.

Paid work

Regulation 2 of SI.No.376/2013

Provides the definition of ‘paid work’.

Childcare costs condition

Regulation 33 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out what ‘childcare costs’ qualify for help and the requirements for notifying those costs.

Amount of childcare costs

Regulations 34 and 36 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out the percentage of childcare costs that can be met and the maximum amounts.

Assessment period that childcare costs are paid in

Regulation 34A of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out which charges can be attributed to which assessment period, in particular when paid in arrears or in advance.

Relevant childcare

Regulation 35 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out what types of childcare qualifies for help.

In Northern Ireland amendments introduced by SR.No.249/2021 provide for payments for upfront childcare costs from the Adviser Discretion Fund to be disregarded when calculating a claimant’s childcare costs element.

Death of a child

Regulation 37 of SI.No.376/2013

Provides for payment of elements in respect of a child for a period after that child’s death.

In Northern Ireland, SR.No.216/2016 makes provisions that are largely equivalent to that in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for decision making

Chapter F7

Provides further guidance on when you qualify for help with childcare and how much help you get, what is ‘excessive childcare’ and when there may be special circumstances for ‘late notification’ of childcare costs.

DWP guidance from

Childcare costs

​Sets out the conditions for eligibility, how childcare costs are verified and calculated, which costs are covered, requirements for reporting childcare costs and the process if they are reported late. It also provides information on getting help with deposits and up front fees and when run-in and run-on costs can be paid.

DWP guidance from

​Flexible support fund

​Provides guidance on when the Flexible Support Fund may help with childcare, including enabling training or education to be undertaken.

Advice for decision making

ADM Memo 12/23

​Confirms that any childcare costs met by the Flexible Support Fund are disregarded when calculating the childcare costs element in in the assessment period when a claimant is moving into, or increasing their hours of, work.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

Court of Appeal

[2021] EWCA Civ 1482

Court of Appeal holds that ‘Proof of Payment Rule’ requiring universal credit claimants to pay for childcare upfront is not unlawful

High Court

[2021] EWHC 102 (Admin)

High Court rules that requirement for universal credit claimants to pay childcare costs upfront before receiving childcare costs element is unlawful