You will be eligible for the 30-hour funded childcare offer if:
There is no requirement to work a certain amount of hours per week – it is all about how much you earn. This means if you only work 10 hours a week but earn £12 per hour, you will meet the minimum earning threshold. Apprentices are also eligible as long as they earn the equivalent to 16 hours at the apprentice minimum wage.
This applies if you are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract and expect to meet the earning criteria on average over the three months after you have applied for the 30-hours. HMRC will look at data such as your previous earnings to consider whether you are likely to meet the criteria and may contact you for further information if they are unsure.
If you are starting up your own business, you will not be expected to meet the minimum earning criteria in your first year of trading.
If you are not working but you expect to take up paid work within 14 days, you can still apply for 30 hours, as long as you expect to meet the income criteria over the coming three months.
If you are a single parent and meet the above criteria, you will be eligible for the 30 hours. If you live with a partner, you both must meet the above criteria. This still applies if one of you is not the child’s parent – for example, if you have remarried or have started living with a new partner. If you are separated/divorced from your child’s parent, the eligibility rules will only apply to the parent that the child normally lives with (and their new partner if they are part of the same household).
You can apply for both the 30-hour offer and tax-free childcare via a single application on the Childcare Choices website .
To complete the application, you provide your name, address and national insurance number, as well as whether you expect to meet the income requirements over the next three months and whether you are in receipt of any benefits. If you live with a partner, you will need to provide the same information for them as well. This will enable HMRC to decide whether your child is eligible for the 30 hours (as well as tax-free childcare).
If you are eligible, you will be given an 11-digit code that you will need to provide to us along with your date of birth, national insurance number and your child’s birth certificate. We will then use the government’s eligibility checking system to check the code is valid.
You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months and will receive a reminder text message or email from the government before the deadline. If you give false information about your eligibility, you could be fined up to £3000.
Your child will be eligible for the 30 hours offer from the term after they turn three, or the term after you receive your eligibility code – whichever is later.
For example, if your child turns three on 25 March, and you apply for the 30-hours on 27 March, your child will be eligible for a place from 1 April (i.e. the start of the spring term). However, if your child turns three on 25 March but you don’t apply for the 30 hours until 5 April, your child won’t be eligible for a place until 1 September (i.e. the start of the autumn term).
If you want to start the 30 hours entitlement in September, the Department for Education is encouraging parents who want to take up a 30 hours place in the autumn term to apply NO LATER THAN THE END OF JUNE, to get their code in good time. HMRC sometimes needs more information from the parent to check whether they’re eligible, so parents should allow time for this.
A: Yes. The 15-hour offer is still universal so if you’re not eligible for a 30-hour place, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour offer.
If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, your child’s 30-hour place will continue to be funded for a ‘grace period’. You can discuss this with us if and when you lose eligibility.