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3 and 4 Year Olds Childcare Funding - Increase to 30 Hours September 2017

Increase in funding entitlement to 30 hours

From September 2017 the government will be providing 30 hours free childcare for working parents of three & four year olds. The additional 15 hours free entitlement on top of the existing universal provision of 15 hours is to support working families or families entering work who meet a government set criteria.

To be eligible, you (and your partner if you have one), must either:

  • each expect to earn at least £115 a week or work* more than 16 hours at the National Living Wage, or each expect to earn at least £111 a week or work more than 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage. This means you don't have to actually work 16 hours a week but earn at least the equivalent of these wage rates.

  • each expect to earn at least £61.92 a week if you're under 18, £84.80 a week if you're aged 18 to 20 or £52.80 a week if you're an apprentice (either under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship)

*Work includes employed and self-employed persons.

Further eligibility conditions for you and your partner (if you have one)

  • must live in England
  • expect to have an income of less than £100,000 each a year
  • if unemployed, you and your partner must become employed within 14 days of applying
  • if your child is in reception at school, you can't get free childcare. Once your child is of compulsory school age, they're no longer eligible

If you don't have a partner then all the conditions above just apply to you.

Circumstances where you may still be eligible

You can still apply for 30 hours free childcare if you or your partner are:

  • taking paid time off work, such as maternity leave, paternity leave or sick leave
  • temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if you're in the military (on duty)
  • already getting Universal Credit or tax credits

You can also still apply for 30 hours free childcare if either you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • you've been assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purpose 

For further information on chidcare choices and to access a childcare funding calculator, please click on this link



Q: My child is going to turn three next year. How soon can I access the 30-hours?

A: Your child will be eligible for the 30 hours offer from the term after they turn three, or the term after you receive your eligibility code – whichever is later.

For example, if your child turns three on 25 March, and you apply for the 30-hours on 27 March, your child will be eligible for a place from 1 April (i.e. the start of the spring term). However, if your child turns three on 25 March but you don’t apply for the 30 hours until 5 April, your child won’t be eligible for a place until 1 September (i.e. the start of the autumn term).

Q: If I’m not eligible for the 30-hour offer, can I still get my 15 hours?

A: Yes. The 15-hour offer is still universal so if you’re not eligible for a 30-hour place, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour offer.

Q: What happens if I become ineligible for the offer e.g. because I lose my job?

A: If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, your child’s 30-hour place will continue to be funded for a ‘grace period’. You should discuss this with your provider if and when you lose eligibility. The table below outlines how long the grace period will last, depending on when you become ineligible for the offer.

Once the grace period has expired, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour funded childcare offer. If you have been taking up the 30 hours at two providers, you can decide which provider you want to continue taking up your 15 hour places from.

Q: Is there any difference in how the first 15 hours and the second 15 hours under the 30-hour offer will be delivered?

A: No, there is no difference. Childcare providers will provide early years care and education that follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework across the whole 30 hours.

Q: I want to access the 30-hours but my provider is asking for a deposit. Can they do this?

A: Yes. Under government rules, providers can charge a refundable deposit for funded places for two-, three- and four-year-olds.  Each local council will have their own arrangements with providers for when deposits are refunded to parents.


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