Need help with your fees?

  • 15 hours & 30 hours Early Education Entitlement
  • 2 year funding entitlement
  • Help from Employers
  • Universal Credit for Childcare
  • Tax - Free Childcare

All 3 and 4 year olds in England already get 15 hours a week or 570 hours a year of free early education entitlement. If their parents are living and working in England,3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to 30 hours free childcare. An extra 570 hours of free childcare a year,so 1140 hours in total. 30 hours of free childcare will be available from September 2017.

The eligibility criteria are the same as the ones for Tax Free Childcare, except you can continue to get these types of support at the same time as 30 hours free childcare:

Tax Credits

Universal Credit

Childcare Vouchers or salary sacrifice schemes, childcare grants and bursaries.

When you apply ,you'll be confirming that you need childcare so that you and your partner, If you have one , can work. If your child's already in full-time reception class in a state funded school ,you wont be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

How It Works

Parents must apply online and will be given a unique code. They must give this code to their provider, along with their national insurance number and child's DOB, so the provider can confirm with their local authority or provider portal the  code is valid.

Your eligibility code is 11 digits long and begins with the number 5000.

The entitlement is 15 hours of free early learning and care per week, provided over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year.  The 15 hours will be available on a flexible basis, and the following will apply:

The minimum time your child can attend a day is 2.5 hours and the maximum is 10 hours.

If accessed over 38 weeks (term time only), the 15 hours must be taken over a minimum of 2 days a week.

Sessions will normally be available in half hour units.

The entitlement is available between 7am – 7pm, even if the childcare provider is open before or after this.

The entitlement may be taken over lunchtime but will not include the cost of a meal. Please check with your provider.

The entitlement may be accessed 38 weeks per year (term time only) and can be accessed up to 52 weeks. If the entitlement is accessed over more than 38 weeks, the number of hours per week will be reduced.

Your employer can offer help with childcare by using childcare vouchers which can give a huge saving on your tax and N.I. contributions. To make this saving, your employer will need to pay part of your salary to you by way of childcare vouchers and therefore the cost of childcare is taken out of your salary before tax and NI are calculated. Your employer will need to be registered with one of the childcare voucher schemes. Individual employers have a variety of schemes to choose from, please ask your employer to see if they provide a scheme.

If you, and any partner, are working, or you’re due to start work, and you’re claiming Universal Credit, you can claim back up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs for children under 16. You could get up to £646 a month for one child, or £1,108 for two or more.

You can use it to help pay:

  • Registered childminders, nurseries, and nannies
  • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
  • Registered schools
  • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency

Universal Credit is being phased in over the next few years. It will replace a number of existing benefits, including tax credits. Whether you can claim will depend on where you live and your personal circumstances.

Contact the tax credit helpline on 0845 300 3900.

If you're a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. You can receive up to £2,000 per child, or £4,000 if disabled.

You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £120 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible. 

If either you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more, you can’t get Tax-Free Childcare. You can’t use Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits. You can use it with the 15 hours and 30 hours schemes.

You can use it to help pay:

  • Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies
  • Registered after-school clubs and playschemes
  • Registered schools
  • Home careworkers working for a registered home care agency