At the moment, all children aged 3 and 4 in England are eligible for 15 hours free childcare per week. From September though, some children will be eligible for 30 hours per week. This will make a huge difference to lots of working parents but there are a few things you need to know!
To qualify for 30 hours free childcare, you and you partner (if you have one) need to both be earning the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or minimum wage per week: this is equal to £120 per week if you are 25 or older (unless you’re newly self-employed in which case this doesn’t apply).
You must also both be earning less than £100,000 per year.
You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers.
How to apply
You can apply for 30 hours free childcare online via the gov.uk website here. You’ll need to answer a number of eligibility questions and provide details such as your National Insurance number, expected earnings, and you’ll need to complete your partner’s details too. The form takes around 20 minutes to complete so make sure you start it when you know you’ve got enough time to fill it in.
If you’re eligible, you’ll receive an 11-digit code that you’ll then need to give to the childcare provider. You’ll also need to show the provider your child’s birth certificate and give them your National Insurance number. They’ll then use these details to cross-check with the government scheme that your child is eligible and that they can offer you a place.
Things to note
- 30 hours free childcare applies to term-time only.
- Not all childcare providers will offer the 3o hours free childcare, some will continue to offer 15 hours due to staffing and space constraints.
- You will need to re-confirm your eligibility every 3 months.
- Your child will be eligible for free childcare the term after their third birthday, so if your child is 3 in August, they’ll be eligible from September, if their birthday is in November, then they’ll be eligible from January and so on.
- If you don’t qualify for the full 30 hours, you may still be eligible for 15 hours.
- You can split the 30 hours between two childcare providers such as a breakfast club and a nursery.
- You don’t have to take the full 30 hours, if you only need 25 then that will still be covered under the scheme.