Help with paying for your childcare

Currently, all 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 free hours of early education per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

This can be increased to 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are: in work, on sick leave or annual leave or on shared parental, maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

There is also 15 hours of free early education available for the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds to support the child’s development.

In March 2023, the Government announced it would be extending childcare support to include 30 hours a week of free childcare for eligible working parents of children aged nine months to three years in England. This is to support parents returning to work by reducing the cost of childcare. Parents working the equivalent of 16 hours a week or more (earning the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage) and earning up to £100k per year will be able to benefit from this offer.

Families can now check their eligibility and sign up to receive a newsletter and updates through the Childcare Choices website.

The roll out of the expansion is happening in the following phases

  • From April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare a week (38 weeks a year).
  • From September 2024, working parents of 9 month to 3-year-olds will also be eligible for this.
  • From September 2025, this will increase to 30 hours a week for working parents of 9 month to 3-year-olds.

Eligible families will be able to access the new entitlements from the term after their child turns the appropriate age. You will need to apply for an eligibility code via HMRC and share this with your chosen childcare provider, to access your funded hours. You will also need to revalidate your code every 3 months.

Eligible working families with 2-year-olds can apply for their code from now until 31 March 2024 to access the new 2-year-old entitlement from April 2024.

The new entitlements can be stretched over the year depending on the number of weeks your chosen childcare provider is open. This would mean fewer hours per week are accessed over more weeks of the year, so the same total number of hours are accessed over the course of the year.

Whilst the childcare hours are free, providers can charge for meals, snacks, consumables, and additional services. Families are advised to contact their childcare provider to ask about their funded offer.

Categories: Children and families, Financial advice and support
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