DWP: Single moms warn of crisis this April as Universal Credit’s childcare payments freeze
Parents using Common Credit can claim a DWP of up to £646.35 a month to pay for childcare – but the limit hasn’t changed since 2016 despite inflation, energy bills and National Insurance skyrocketed
Poor parents will be hit hard by the cost of living crisis in April when Tory ministers refuse to increase key childcare subsidies – despite soaring inflation.
Three single moms blew up the paid babysitting system today General Credit at a congressional hearing.
Parents can claim 85% of the cost of childcare, but only up to a limit of £646.35 a month – unchanged since 2016 and no increase in April.
That is though Inflation is 5.5%, energy bills are up £693 a year, National Insurance is up and the “stealth tax” threshold is frozen on income tax and student loans.
Parents also need to pay three- or four-figure amounts upfront and can only ask them to pay it back later as per the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations.
The campaigner and working mother of a four-year-old and Gemma Widdowfield, 36, told the Commons Employment and Pensions Committee: “The cap is £646.35 and that’s nationwide – and Child care costs can fluctuate.
“We talk to people who already pay the cost of childcare in London, which is sometimes double what we pay, but the limit remains the same.
“The limit hasn’t increased for several years either.”
The former police officer added: “We are all in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. We all feel pinched.
“My childcare is going up a little bit but the General Credit limit isn’t going up at all… that goes to us.”
Campaigner and single mother Vikki Waterman, 37, from North West Durham, told the Mirror: “It will affect parents, especially low-income, single parents. relatives and those with small children.
“It definitely has to be increased in line with inflation because it hasn’t been increased in years.”
NurPhoto / PA images)
Recalling her past struggling with the system, she says: “You have a bowl of cereal for your tea and you have a bowl of cereal the next morning and then you go to work all day, and come back. and do so. Because there’s nothing left – no money left for anything else. “
Save the Children warned the number of parents claiming childcare costs under Universal Credit has increased by 48 per cent since February 2020.
In strong evidence, mothers told the committee they had to cut their hours, take out a family loan or choose between childcare and gas to get to work.
Gemma, a senior investigative officer for the council, told MPs she was sent a £777.50 bill just a month to then receive £91 for the cost of giving birth.
In another month she has to find £256 – just a quarter of her income – as her expenses are above the limit, she told MPs.
“For a low-income family or single parent, it really isn’t enough to keep them working. It’s been a constant struggle,” she said.
Campaigner and mother of 13-year-old daughter Nichola Salvato, 50, said: “Even though you’re paying for the entire month, anything that doesn’t match the Universal Credit dates is not going to be paid. included in this evaluation phase, they will be moved to the next phase.
“So you potentially have to wait three months – you could have paid £1,000 that you can’t afford, and there are three months left before you get the last part of it back.
“You’re in a position where you get something like £90 when you’ve paid £600.”
All three mothers previously gave evidence in an earlier investigation by the same committee, but the government did not accept most of their recommendations.
Nichola won the “upfront” rules in the Supreme Court but this was overturned in the Court of Appeal. Now she will take it to the Supreme Court.
She told MPs: “I ended up in a situation where I had to pay childcare or gas to get to work, or turn on the electricity, and it was really hard so I quit my job. my job”.
She continued: “You’re always in a state of slowness, and before there’s a half chance of catching up in any way, then you’re going to have to take half a semester or a summer break or those something similar.”
Vikki added: “We know this pushes parents into poverty – we’ve been there ourselves.
“This is the third time I have come here to discuss the same thing. This is the third time I’m off work and away from my kids. It’s time we tackle this problem.
“It broke my heart that they [other parents] is still where we were four years ago.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dwp-single-mums-warn-crisis-26366198 DWP: Single moms warn of crisis this April as Universal Credit's childcare payments freeze