The rules surrounding free childcare funding in the UK can be confusing. You may have heard of the Government schemes for ’30 hours of free childcare’, or ’15 hours free funding’. However, different age groups each have their own separate rules surrounding eligibility. In view of the complexities involved, we have put together a rough guide for early years age groups, to help clarify things. This should be useful for those looking for nursery and pre-school places for 2 to 4 year olds in particular. We’ll take each age group in turn:
Free childcare funding for 2 year olds
You may be eligible for up to 15 hours of free childcare funding for 2 year olds if you live in England and ….
• are receiving Income Support;
• receive the guaranteed element of Pension Credit;
• are receiving Income-based Job Seekers Allowance;
• receive Income-related Employment & Support Allowance;
• are receiving Universal Credit and your annual household income is no more than £15,400 after tax, excluding benefits;
• receive Tax Credits and your annual household income is no more than £16,190 before tax;
• are receiving the Working Tax Credit “4 week run-on” (payments you receive when your eligibility for Working Tax Credit ceases).
You may also be eligible if your 2 year old:
• is subject to an Education, Health & Care plan;
• has a statement of special educational needs;
• is no longer in care following a special guardianship order, an adoption order or a child arrangements order;
• receives a Disability Living Allowance;
• is cared for by a local authority.
Separate rules apply for those who are non-EEA citizens who also cannot claim benefits.
15 hours free childcare for 3 & 4 year olds
For English nationals, 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week, for 38 weeks per year. That equates to 570 hours per year but it can only be used in conjunction with an approved childcare provider like Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham. 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for this until they start school in reception year, or reach compulsory schooling age if that’s later. Eligibility does not depend on income or the parents’/guardians’ work situation. Parents can start benefiting from the funding from the 1st of January, the 1st of April or the 1st of September after their child’s third birthday. Ask your local nursery, pre-school or council for more details.
30 hours free childcare funding
In addition to the above, 3 and 4 year olds may be eligible for an additional 15 hours of free childcare, taking the total to 30 hours a week, if certain criteria are met … [… READ MORE …]