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.
Will I be eligible?
Everyone will still receive the 15 hours free childcare that is currently available but you may also be eligible for more…
Eligibility rules for 30 hours free childcare:
- 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
What if one parent in a couple isn’t working?
If one parent isn’t working because they’re an official carer (e.g. 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, maternity leave.
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.
How do you apply for the 30 hours free childcare?
You’ll be able to apply for both the 30-hour scheme and the Tax-Free Childcare scheme through a joint online application being developed by HMRC. This is because the eligibility requirements for both schemes are aligned.
Childcare Choices Website
You can now find a straightforward explanation of all government childcare support on the new Childcare Choices website: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
Childcare Choices brings all the government childcare offers together for the first time, providing a simple way of seeing which schemes are available, with easy next steps to where you can find more.
Using the website’s Childcare Calculator, you can quickly find out which of the offers are available to you and choose what works best for your family: www.gov.uk/childcare-calculator