30 hours FREE Childcare for 3 & 4 year olds
If you need further information you can visit the Childcare Choices website.
To Apply - please scroll down to that section below
All three and four year olds are entitiled to free early education and childcare for 15 hours a week during term time (or 11.5 hours per week spread over 50 weeks including school holidays).
You may be able to get 30 hours free childcare if:
- you live in England
- your child is 3 to 4 years old
- must be with an approved childcare provider
- stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)
You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.
If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.
You can apply online for a childcare account to get a code for 30 hours to give to your provider.
How you can use 30 hours free childcare
You can get 30 hours of free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year (during school term time).
You may be able to get free childcare for 52 weeks if you use fewer than 30 hours per week. Check with your childcare provider to find out if this is something they offer.
Your eligibility depends on:
- if you are working
- your income (and your partner’s income, if you have one)
- your child’s age and circumstances
- your immigration status
You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.
If you are working
You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:
- in work
- on sick leave or annual leave
- on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave
If you’re on adoption leave for a child aged 3 to 4 years old, you must return to work within 31 days of the date you first apply for 30 hours free childcare for that child.
If your working pattern has changed because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
You may still be eligible for 30 hours free childcare if you’re temporarily working less and either:
- you’re on furlough through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- you’re claiming a Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant
If you are not currently working
You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance.
You can apply if you’re starting or re-starting work within the next 31 days.
You’ll need to expect to earn a certain amount over the next 3 months. This is at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average.
For example, over the next 3 months you expect to earn at least £1,813.76 - the National Living Wage for people over 25.
If you have a partner, they’ll need to expect to earn at least this much too.
If you or your partner are temporarily earning less than this amount because of coronavirus, you may still be eligible. You must be furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or claiming a Self Employment Income Support Scheme grant to qualify.
If you’re self-employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use an average of how much you expect to make over the current tax year.
This earnings limit does not apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
If you or your partner have an expected ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 in the current tax year you will not be eligible. This includes any bonuses you expect to get.
You or your partner can earn up to £150,000 in the current tax year and still be eligible if you’re a critical worker and have worked extra hours because of coronavirus.
Your adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and minus things like Gift Aid.
You will not be eligible if your child does not usually live with you.
If you foster your child, you cannot use the online application to get 30 hours free childcare. Speak to your social worker if you want to apply.
Your immigration status
To be eligible for 30 hours free childcare, you (or your partner if you have one) must have a National Insurance number and at least one of the following:
- British or Irish citizenship
- settled or pre-settled status, or been living in the UK before 1 January 2021 with the right to reside
- permission to access public funds - your UK residence card will tell you if you cannot do this
When to apply
You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.
- If your child’s 3rd birthday falls between 1 January – 31 March, they can get 30 hours from the start of the Summer Term (April), recommended time to apply - between 15th January to 28th February
- If your child’s 3rd birthday falls between 1 April – 31 August, they can get 30 hours from the start of the start of the Autumn Term (September), recommended time to apply - between 15th June to 31st July
- If your child’s 3rd birthday falls between 1 September – 31 December, they can get 30 hours from the start of the start of the Spring Term (January), recommended time to apply - between 15th October to 30th November
You can apply outside of these recommended dates but you might not receive your code in time. You MUST have a valid code by the end of the month before a new term starts.
Check with your childcare provider to find out the exact date your 30 hours free childcare starts.
You have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. If you apply more than 3 months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid.
Apply online for 30 hours free childcare, please be aware of the dates above when applying. You MUST have a valid code by the end of the month before a new term starts.
If you are applying for 30 hours and someone else already claims Tax-Free Childcare for that child, your application will be unsuccessful.
If you have a partner
You must include your partner in your application if you are:
- married or in a civil partnership and live together
- not married or in a civil partnership, but living together as though you are
Their employment and income will not affect your eligibility if they:
- are or will be absent from your household for more than 6 months
- are a prisoner
You and your partner cannot both have accounts for the same child.
If you are separated
You and your ex-partner need to decide who should apply if you are jointly responsible for your child.
If you cannot decide, both of you must apply separately and HMRC will decide who gets a childcare account.
After you’ve applied
Once your application has been approved, you’ll get a code for 30 hours free childcare to give to your childcare provider.
To find out who will be offering the Extended Childcare Offer in Knowsley, please visit our childcare website
For more information please ring the the Childcare Information Service on 0151 443 5635 or 0800 085 2022 (option 1).
30 Hour Childcare
The DfE (Department for education) launched a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours free childcare can have for working families. It aims to illustrate how 30 hours free childcare entitlements has supported and benefited disadvantaged families, including parents of children with SEND. Please see the short video produced by the DfE for more information.
Case Study 1: Chelsea & Esmai (Telford and Wrekin) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours free childcare can have for working families. Chelsea from Telford shares her story of how #30hours childcare helped her find a healthy work/life balance. Hear more from Chelsea here: Chelsea's story
Case Study 2: Florentina & Erik (Brent) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours childcare can have for working families. Florentina from Brent shares her story of how 30 hours allowed her to increase her working hours while her son Erik, who has special educational needs, received speech and language therapy through his nursery. Hear more from Florentina here: Florentina's story
Case Study 3: Debbie, Jamie, Ruby & Ivy (Devon) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours childcare can have for working families. Debbie and Jamie from Devon share their story of how #30hours free childcare helped them both start working full-time, and increase the no. of days their daughter Ivy attends pre-school. Hear more from Debbie here: Debbie's story
Case Study 4: Murugan & Rujen (Brent) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours childcare can have for working families. Murugan from Brent share how #30hours childcare helped with his family's finances. Hear more from Murugan here: Murugan's story
Case Study 5: Letesha & Lovell (Derby) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness on the benefits that using 30 hours childcare can have for working families. Letesha from Derby shares her story of how #30hours childcare helped bring her family closer together. Hear more from Letesha here: Letesha's story
Case Study 6: Claire & JJ (Leeds) - The Department for Education (DfE) is launching a campaign to promote and raise awareness of the benefits that using 30 hours childcare can have for working families. Claire from Leeds shares her story of how #30hours childcare helped give her back her "independence". Hear more from Claire here: Claire's story.
More about the above families and others who have benefited from 30 hours can be found here: http://ow.ly/OcxP50usZPC
Want to find out if you’re eligible and apply for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare? Watch this video for step-by-step guidance on what you need to apply. Visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to learn more.