THOUSANDS of parents on Universal Credit are still failing to claim for help with childcare costs, even though they’re entitled to them.
A survey released today by the Department of Work and Pensions highlighted how it is failing to relieve families of one of the biggest financial burdens working parents face.
Getty – Contributor Almost two-thirds of parents who are entitled to help aren’t claiming it
Parents on Universal Credit can claim back up to 85 per cent – up to £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children – of childcare costs to help Brits back into work.
The results found that only 38 per cent of parents who are entitled to the payout had actually claimed it.
Latest figures from the DWP show that only a third of the 310,000 families with children on Universal Credit pay for childcare, leaving an estimated 93,000 households missing out on help.
More than 41 per cent of parents who don’t claim said it was because they weren’t sure if they were eligible.
What help is available for parents?CHILDCARE can be a costly business. Here is how you can get help:
30 hours free childcare – Parents of three- and four-year-olds can apply for 30 hours of free childcare a week.To qualify you must work at least 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage and earn less than £100,000 a year.
Tax credits – For children under 16, some working families can get up to £122.50 a week depending on their income to help with childcare costs.
Childcare vouchers – If your employer offers childcare vouchers you can get up to £933 a yeaar in tax and national insurance savings.You pay for your childcare before your tax contributions are taken out.This scheme is now shut to new joiners.
Tax-free childcare – Available to working families and the self-employed, for every £8 you put in the Government will add an extra £2.
Up to eight per cent of parents had made other arrangements to cover the costs, while five per cent felt the system wasn’t flexible enough to meet their needs.
A shocking 95 per cent didn’t know that they could get help for all of their children regardless of age and just one in 10 knew that they had to provide evidence of payments every month.
One of the biggest issues facing parents on the Government’s controversial scheme is that they have to stump up the fees upfront and claim them back later.
Many families don’t have that kind of cash, which is why The Sun is calling for the Government to cover the upfront costs as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
The DWP surveyed 1,586 Universal Credit claimants between May and June 2018 and found that the number of parents claiming had actually improved since six months before.
‘I WAS LIVID’ Universal Credit staff said to leave daughter, 8, home alone so I could work UNIVERSAL HELL I’m so broke on Universal Credit I feed my daughter leftover party food ExclusiveWHERE CREDIT’S DUE 4m set for £3k Universal Credit boost – but others plunged into poverty BAD CREDIT Corrie’s Bruce Jones slams ‘ridiculous’ 5-week wait for Universal Credit cash CREDIT CRISIS Universal Credit 5-week wait ‘sets Brits up to fail & loads them with debt’ OUT OF CREDIT I quit my job to care for dying mum but Universal Credit wait ruined my life
Just 32 per cent of eligible parents claimed the help between October and November 2017.
It also showed that 36 per cent of working mums and dads rely on family and friends to look after their kids while they’re at work, particularly single parents.
A DWP spokesperson told The Sun: “Universal Credit is a force for good, we continue to make improvements and over 1.6 million people are receiving the benefit successfully.
“This study shows that understanding of Universal Credit continues to rise, satisfaction levels are high and people are being helped into work quicker.
“We will build on this success as people continue to move onto the benefit.”
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit WorkUNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email UniversalCredit@the-sun.co.uk to share your story.
‘I spent my £300-a-month Universal Credit money on booze and lost my kids – now I’m sharing a bed with my mum’
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