Eligibility for the 30 hours free childcare scheme in England

From September 2017, working families of three and four year olds will be entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare. This is on top of the existing 15 hours of free early education for all parents of three and four year olds and some two year olds.

Will I be entitled to the extra 15 hours?

You will be eligible if:

  • You (and your partner where applicable) earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months. This equates to £120 a week (or around £6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or around £5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old and £56 a week for apprentices in their first year. This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
  • You (and your partner where applicable) are seeking the free childcare to enable you to work.
  • You (or your partner where applicable) are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if you are on statutory sick leave.

Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work, they are assessed as though they are in paid work.

Where you are in a 'start-up period' (you are newly self-employed), you do not need to demonstrate that you meet the income criteria for 12 months.

If one or both parents is a non-EEA national, the parent applying must have recourse to public funds.

When will I not meet the criteria?

You will not meet the criteria when:

  • One or both parents have an income of more than £100,000.
  • You (or your partner where applicable) are a non-EEA national and the parent applying does not have recourse to public funds.

What happens if I lose eligibility?

You will receive a 'grace period' - this means you will be able to keep your childcare for a short period.

Once the 'grace period' has lapsed, you should be entitled to the universal 15-hour entitlement.