Communities Minister removes significant barrier to employment for parents

Date published: 25 October 2021

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has introduced upfront childcare costs which will remove a significant barrier to employment for parents on low incomes.

Minister Hargey sitting at her desk

Minister Hargey said,

“My focus is to support people, workers and their families who face the greatest economic challenges.

“Childcare is critical in helping parents into work and moving families out of poverty.

“I have introduced this change as it is crucial that barriers to employment are removed.  We need to provide people with the support and assistance they need to move into, and stay, in employment.” 

Upfront childcare costs will be payable for the first month for people commencing employment who are claiming Universal Credit or are in receipt of other income-based benefits.

Parents who are eligible for the childcare element of Universal Credit (UC) and other income-based benefits can apply for a non-repayable grant of up to £1,500 from the Department’s Adviser Discretion Fund (ADF) which will be paid in advance to a registered childcare provider.

Any amount awarded for childcare costs will be included within the maximum £1,500 limit payable for ADF awards in a 12 month period.

Applications for the grant begin on 25 October after the Minister secured Executive approval for amendments to the current regulations earlier this year. The change is part of a range of labour market interventions introduced by Minister Hargey.


Notes to editors: 

  1. The ADF is a grant fund available to UC and other income-based benefits to help remove barriers to employment that prevent people moving towards and into employment.
  2. The Universal Credit (Childcare Costs) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 amended the Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 by ensuring that an Adviser Discretion Fund [ADF] payment from the Department for upfront childcare costs will be included when calculating the childcare element in the person’s Universal Credit award.
  3. Minister Hargey secured NI Executive approval for the changes in May 2021.
  4. Universal Credit pays up to 85% of a person’s childcare costs in arrears.
  5. Further information on the Adviser Discretion Fund can be found on NI Direct 
  6. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  8. Follow us on twitter @CommunitiesNI

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