30 Hours Free Childcare
So what is the free childcare deal?
In a nutshell, many working parents of 3 to 4-year-olds in England will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare - rather than the current 15 hours.
But the first thing you need to know is that this is 30 hours free for only 38 weeks per year - not 52 weeks of the year. It's basically equivalent to school term times - and totals 1140 free hours across the year.
It will be available at the participating childcare options.
Will my child get it?
Not necessarily as not everyone is eligible. But everyone will still receive the 15 hours free childcare that is currently available.
- Your child will be aged 3 or 4 when the scheme starts in your area
- Both parents must be working - or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family
- Each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage
- Each parent must have an annual income of less than £100,000
- You live in England
When will it start?
The scheme is scheduled to roll out nationwide in September 2017.
The Government has already been running pilot schemes in 8 English areas: Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire. A further 4 pilots will run from April in Dorset, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire and Tower Hamlets.
You can now pre-register for the 30-hour scheme on the Gov.UK website. You'll need to confirm you live in England and will be asked to provide your email address and your child's date of birth. You'll then be emailed with information about when the scheme will be available and how to apply.
You can also find out more on a new Childcare Choices website set up by HMRC. This also gives information about the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme and includes a childcare calculator so you can compare your different options.
To get 30 hours free childcare, you'll need to do the following:
- Apply online through the childcare service. (This system is not yet set up)
- If you're eligible, you'll receive a code – this will allow you to arrange your childcare place ahead of September 2017
- Take your code to your childcare provider or local council (if it's council-provided childcare), along with your National Insurance number and your child’s date of birth
- Your childcare provider or council will check the code is authentic and allocate your child a free childcare place
To be eligible, I've got to earn the equivalent of 16 hours at National Minimum Wage. How much is that?
It depends on your age. For this scheme, the minimum amount will always reflect the lowest hourly rate that a person of your age can legally be paid. Therefore, currently for a parent aged 21-24, you'd need to earn a weekly average of at least £111.20. For a parent aged 25+, you'd need to earn a weekly average of at least £115.20.
What if one parent in a couple isn't working?
This is basically a scheme to help working parents, so families where one parent doesn't work, or both parents don't work, will usually not be eligible for these additional 15 hours.
However, if one parent isn't working because they're an official carer (eg receiving benefits relating to being a carer) or they are receiving disability benefits, and the other parent is working, then the Government has stated it "intends to make provision" to support these families.
There is also additional entitlement if the parent normally works but is temporarily away from the workplace, for example on statutory sick pay.
What if you are self-employed or on a zero hours contract?
You will be eligible if you (or both of you in a couple) earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage.
What if one parent loses their job?
There will be a short "grace period" - although this hasn't yet been defined - allowing parents to have a chance to find new employment.
For more information on the 30 hours free childcare visit the school office or speak to Nursery staff.