Some working parents will be eligible for an additional 15 hours of free childcare for their 3 and 4 year olds. These families will be able to access up to 30 hours of free childcare a week, 38 weeks a year.
If your childcare provider has space, you may be able to stretch your hours over more weeks e.g. 22 hours over 48 weeks. Talk to them about this.
- If their birthday is before 1 September, they can start in the autumn term
- If their birthday is before 1 January, they can start in the spring term
- If their birthday is before 1 April, can start in the summer term
You will need to apply well in advance as you must have your 'eligibility code' before the term starts.
You may be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare if your circumstances are as follows:
- Both parents are earning or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
- This equates to £120 a week (or about £6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or about £5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old. (These rates were correct in March 2017. National Minimum/Living Wage rates change every April. Please check the GOV.UK website for up-to-date information).
- This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
- The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
- Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
- Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
- Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
- If a non-EEA national, the parent must have recourse to public funds.
The eligibility criteria will not be met when:
- Either parent has an income of more than £100,000
- Either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)
How to apply
To find out if you are eligible for 30 hours free childcare, you can apply now on the Childcare Service. You will need your national insurance number and, where applicable, your partner’s national insurance number to fill in the application form.
To keep your 30 hours free childcare place, you will need to check your details are up to date every 3 months at www.gov.uk/childcareaccount. If you don't, the funding is stopped.
If parents encounter any problems with the application process or with accessing the childcare account, they can call the childcare service Customer Interaction Centre on 0300 123 4097.