30 Hours Free Childcare for 3 & 4 year olds
Since 1st September 2017 working parents of a 3 or 4 year old child can access the free extended childcare entitlement. This is an extension of the current 15 hours universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds and offers (up to) a maximum of 30 hours free childcare.
To apply for the extended entitlement (30 hours) from 1st January 2018, you will need to apply to the Childcare Service (HMRC) and secure your eligibility code by 31st December 2017. When you receive your code take it to your childcare provider to ensure you receive the funding for the Spring term.
Please note, you do not have to apply or secure a code for the 15 hours universal entitlement. You are able to access this from when your child turns 3, just contact your childcare provider to discuss a place for your child.
Who can get 30 hours free childcare?
The 30 hours free childcare offer is for working families in England with 3 and 4 year old children. Children are eligible from the term following their 3rd birthday until they reach compulsory school age and must have applied successfully for a 30 hours code via HMRC. Parents must be working and each earning at least £120 a week, but no more than £100,000 a year each. Find out if you are eligible for 30 hours free childcare here.
You might also be able to get Tax Free Childcare and you can apply for both at the same time. To find out more about both visit childcare choices
How you can use your 30 hours
Up to 30 hours of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours, the same as school terms). Some childcare providers can stretch your entitlement across more weeks by taking fewer hours over each week (e.g 23.75 hours over 48 weeks).
If you're using 15 hours of free childcare, ask your provider if they're offering up to 30 hours from September 2017. Some providers may not be able to offer more hours, or they may only be able to offer a few extra hours. This may be due to places they have available or their opening times.
You can use funding to pay for more than one childcare provider. This could be a nursery and a childminder, or two childminders.
Search for Childcare
If you're not using childcare yet, search our directory to find childcare providers offering 30 hours. You can filter this search by using your postcode.
How to Apply
If your child is 3 or 4 on 31 December 2017, you can apply now for January 2018. To do this, you must complete an online form by 31 December 2017 so allow yourself enough time. If you are eligible you will get an 11 digit code which you should take to your childcare provider. Your childcare provider will check the code and confirm your eligibility. If your code is issued after the 31 December , you won't be able to claim any extra hours until the next term (April 2018).
If you have already successfully applied for 30 hours free childcare but are not able to find the 11 digit code to give to your childcare provider, please see our parent guide in the Downloads section of how to find this.
Reconfirm your eligibility
If you claim up to 30 hours of free childcare and/or Tax-Free Childcare this term, you must reconfirm your eligibility. You must do this even if your child hasn't started their 30 hours place. You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months from the date you first applied.
Experiencing difficulties in applying or a delay on the decision of your application?
If you are experiencing any difficulties in applying online for 30 hours childcare please contact the HMRC Contact Centre on 0300 123 4097. If you have submitted an application and are awaiting a 30 hours code to claim free childcare, please contact the HMRC Contact Centre. When you have been issued with a 30 hours code from HMRC, please take this to your childcare provider who will check the code and confirm your eligibility
You can find a straightforward explanation of all government childcare support on the new Childcare Choices website
Childcare Choices brings all the government childcare offers together in one place, providing a simple way of seeing which schemes are available, with easy next steps to where you can find out more.
Using the website's childcare calculator, you can quickly find out which of the offers are available to you and choose what works best for your family.
If you would like to know more or find out about childcare in you area, contact the Family Information Service on 01452 427362.