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Parent takes DWP to court over Universal Credit childcare costs rule

Laura Banks

29 January 2020

It has been reported that a working lone parent in England is challenging the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by way of Judicial Review on a Universal Credit policy which forces parents to make up front payments for childcare, before they can claim them back.

Nichola Salvato says that this policy has forced her into debt and caused to cut her hours as she cannot afford to pay out up front childcare costs. She argues that it is unlawful, discriminatory and in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. Further it is being argued that the childcare policy "disproportionately adversely affects women" and also "disadvantages parents who lack the funds to pay the upfront costs of childcare". The case is being supported by Save the Children. The DWP argues that the policy was designed to prevent fraud.

Save the Children's head of UK child poverty, Becca Lyon, said: "The way childcare is paid for through Universal Credit causes unnecessary hardship to parents on low incomes - the majority of whom are single mothers. Mums tell us that this has left them constantly in arrears. They've had to take out loans to pay nursery bills, turn down job opportunities or even resort to food banks to feed their children. It's just not right."

Universal Credit has been heavily criticised and subjected to several legal challenges since its introduction. As the benefit continues to be rolled out across Northern Ireland, we will follow the outcome of this case with interest. For any Social Justice or Universal Credit enquiry, contact Laura Banks on 028 9024 3901.