Campaign win on childcare

Posted 12 March 2023

After years of campaigning by Gingerbread, other organisations including Citizen’s Advice and Save the Children, alongside campaigning parents, the Government is making substantial and very welcome changes to the way parents on Universal Credit (UC) can help with childcare.

Ahead of the Budget this week, the Government has announced that payments for childcare for eligible UC claimants will be available upfront rather than paid in arrears. Currently, claimants need to pay fees to their childcare provider upfront and then wait for reimbursement. This is an impossible hurdle for many single parents – many of whom will be unable to find the money to pay the upfront fees or may go into debt in trying to do so.

The Government has also announced that it is increasing the maximum amounts that can be claimed, which given the soaring costs of childcare, is sorely needed.

These changes are a potential gamechanger for single parents and we are delighted that they are being taken forward.

Wider reform to the childcare system is also urgently needed to make it affordable for all and we will be looking to the Budget to see if the Chancellor has any more to say on that.

Alongside the changes to childcare support for UC claimants, the Government has also announced increased work search requirements for parents on UC and changes to the sanctions’regime.

We have significant concerns about what these changes might mean and will be looking at the details to better understand the implications. What is clear is that single parents already want to work and want to work more hours. Sanctions do little to get more single parents into work, while risking pushing them into (further) economic hardship.  The Government would do better to keep their attention on removing the barriers to work for single parents, as outlined in our latest report.

We are expecting to see fuller details of all of these changes at the Budget on Wednesday. You can read more about what we want to see from the Budget here.