Working parents could be entitled to 30 hours funded childcare, and help with childcare costs through Tax Free Childcare.
- Childcare Search
- Childcare Calculator - Check what help you could get with childcare costs
- HMRC Childcare Choices - Click here if you want to apply for the 30 hours
- Families Information Service
- 30 hours information for professionals
From September 2017, working parents of 3 & 4 year olds that meet the criteria will be entitled to 30 hours funded childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year. This is an increase of 15 additional funded childcare hours on top of the current 15 hours of funded childcare / early education.
For more on this, please read the following questions and answers.
Questions about 30 hours funded childcare
What is the eligibility criteria?
Working parents includes: employed, self-employed and workers on a zero hour’s contract.
To take up the 30 hours of funded childcare families need to meet all the following criteria:
- Each parent earns less than £100,000 per year
- Both parents are working and in a lone parent family the sole parent must work
- Each parent works a minimum of 16 hours a week or earns on average a weekly minimum amount that is equivalent to 16 hours a week at either the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, for example, £131 a week based on National Living Wage
There are exceptions to both parents having to work. Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be entitled to the 15 hours extended entitlement; however, they will be eligible where:
- both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on: parental, maternity or paternity leave; adoption leave; or on statutory sick pay
- one parent is employed and one parent:
- has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring
- is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits
What is the eligibility criteria for foster carers?
How do I apply?
You will need to reconfirm your details every 3 months to prove you still meet the eligibility criteria.
How do foster carers apply?
- National insurance number(s)
- Any evidence requested by your local authority
Where is my eligibility code?
My child is eligible for a 30 hour place, what do I do next?
You will be given an 11-digit code starting with 5000... which can be viewed on your online childcare account.
You need to find out which schools / childcare providers offer 30 hour places and if they have vacancies
When you have found a school nursery / childcare provider that you want your child to attend you need to follow their admission arrangements to secure your place (this will include a Parent Declaration Form)
The school / childcare provider will need to validate your 11-digit code
Once the code has been validated your child's place can be confirmed and a start date can be arranged
Eligibility codes last 3 months only and therefore you will need to reconfirm your details every 3 months
What is a Parent Declaration Form?
What happens if my circumstances have changed and I am no longer eligible?
If a child has started their place and the parent’s circumstances change and they fall out of eligibility, a grace period will apply so the child can continue with their funded place for a period of time.
After the grace period end date the child will no longer be able to receive the 15 hours extended entitlement however they will continue to receive the 15 hours universal entitlement.
|Date parent receives 'not eligible' decision on reconfirmation||Grace period end date|
|1st January to 10th February||31st March|
|11th February to 31st March||31st August|
|1st April to 26th May||31st August|
|27th May to 31st August||31st December|
|1st September to 21st October||31st December|
|22nd October to 31st December||31st March|
When can my child take up their 30 hour funded place?
- The child can take up their 30 hour funded place the term after their third birthday and
- The term after the 'Validity Start Date'
|Validity Start Date and child is three years old on or before the following date||Date from when a child can take up their 15 hour extended entitlement place|
|31st August||1st September|
|31st December||1st January|
|31st March||1st April|
- 17th January (Spring Term)
- 16th May (Summer Term)
- 3rd October (Autumn Term)
Where can my child take up their funded childcare place?
- independent schools
- day nurseries
- sessional providers (for example, a playgroup or pre-school).
Please be aware not all providers deliver the 30 hours funded childcare.
Can I use more than one provider for the 30 hours?
Do you have any other information for parents who are self-employed or on a zero hour's contract?
Although the criteria are based on earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week, there is no requirement to work any particular number of hours or to earn any particular amount each week. Parents need only to expect to earn the stated amount on average over a 3 month period (which will be £131.36 a week based on National Living Wage). HMRC will request information through the application process which may include previous earnings.
New self-employed parents: it is recognised that many small businesses struggle to generate a regular income when they first start up. Therefore to support newly self-employed parents they do not have to meet the minimum income rule in their first year of trading. This ‘start up’ period should remove the pressure on parents to predict future income in the earliest months of their business.
My school nursery offers 30 hours places, how do I apply?
15 hours universal entitlement nursery places: The allocation of nursery places will still be undertaken by the Council for the majority of schools. The parent will submit an application form to the Council, who will then write to the parent informing them which school nursery their child will have a place at for their 15 hours universal entitlement. The admission arrangements for which sessions the child will attend will then be agreed directly with the school.
Will I have to pay anything for my child's 30 hour place?
No, the actual 30 hours place will be delivered free to the parent.
It is not intended to cover the cost of meals, optional services or additional hours (hours that are taken over and above the funded entitlement hours). Therefore, schools / childcare providers will charge for additional hours, meals, trips out and consumables such as nappies, wipes, sun cream etc.
Before a child starts their funded hours, a parent should expect the provider to be completely clear about charges for additional hours and optional services.
Parents should not be required to pay a registration fee as a condition of taking up their child’s funded place.
A childcare provider can request a deposit where a place is secured in advance. The deposit will then be refunded in full to the parent within a reasonable timescale when the child takes up the place.
If you would like more in depth information on the frequently asked questions for the 30 hours funded childcare, please see the FAQ Parents document in the downloads and resources section of this page.
Tax Free Childcare
Tax Free Childcare is a new Government scheme to help working families with their childcare costs. Parents will be able to open online childcare accounts to pay their school/childcare provider directly. For every £8 that parents, family or friends pay in, the Government will make a top up payment of an additional £2 up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for each disabled child. This will be open to all working parents in the UK with children under 12 years old or under 17 years old if they have a disability. Parents can’t use Tax Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers.
To support parents to decide which childcare offer will best suit their family, the governments new Childcare Choices website will provide all the information a parent needs to understand what is available to them.
If you have any questions, please get in touch on the details below.
Contact the Families Information Service
- Freephone: 0800 138 4568, operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, outside of these hours there is an answer phone service
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - all queries will be responded to within three working days.
- FAQ Parents - 30 Hours
- Download (710KB - DOC)
- FAQ Parents - Tax Free Childcare
- Download (291KB - DOC)
- HMRC System - Parents Guide to access code
- Download (1.02MB - DOCX)