30 hours free early education for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds (extended entitlement)
All three and four-year-old children are entitled to a universal early education place, which provides up to 570 hours of free nursery education per year. Further information can be found here
Children in some families will now be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare, otherwise known as the '30 Hours Childcare or Extended Entitlement'.
The government has announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Subject to Parliamentary approval, parents who are critical workers will also remain eligible for these entitlements if their income has increased over the maximum threshold during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This temporary flexibility will ensure critical workers can continue to access the childcare they need to enable them to work. These arrangements will be reviewed over the summer. This announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/eligibility-for-government-childcare-offers-protected
Find out about temporary changes that may affect you if you're applying for, or already getting, Tax-Free Childcare or 30 hours free childcare.
- If you’re on furlough
- If you’re not able to work or you’re working less
- If you’re self-employed
- If you missed the 31 March deadline
- If you’re a critical worker
- Apply or reconfirm
To help make sure critical workers can continue to access the childcare they need to enable them to work, even if their circumstances have changed during coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made some temporary changes.
This guidance will be updated when these changes end.
Temporary changes have been made to the eligibility criteria for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare, during coronavirus.
The changes may affect you if you, or someone you live with, are:
- on furlough
- not able to work or you’re working less
- a critical worker
If you’re on furlough
If your employer has no work for you they might be able to keep you on the payroll and put you on temporary leave instead. This is known as being put ‘on furlough’ and you’re paid 80% of wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
You should apply, or reconfirm if you already have a childcare account, if your wage, and your partner’s wage if you have one, is:
- at least the National Minimum Wage for 16 hours a week
- below the normal minimum income requirement, but you’d normally expect to meet the income requirement
If you’re not able to work or you’re working less
You should apply or reconfirm if you already have a childcare account if you’re:
- getting sick pay or statutory sick pay (SSP) – time spent on sick pay or SSP will count as working and meeting the minimum income requirement
- taking unpaid leave to care for others, such as your children - if you expect your income to meet the minimum income requirement (at least the National Minimum Wage for 16 hours a week) after coronavirus
- living with someone who has coronavirus - you must stay at home - if you expect your income to meet the minimum income agreement (at least the National Minimum Wage for 16 hours a week) after coronavirus
- working less, your hours have been reduced and your wage:
- meets the minimum earnings requirement
- is below the normal minimum earnings requirement but you would normally expect to earn above it
If you’re made redundant
If you’re made redundant you’re not eligible to apply or reconfirm you have a childcare account because you’re:
- no longer in work
- not meeting the minimum income requirement
If you start employment again and expect to earn above the minimum income requirement you can apply 31 days before you start your new job.
If you’re self-employed
You should apply or reconfirm if you already have a childcare account if you are:
- continuing to work, and your earnings:
- are above the minimum earnings requirement
- are below the normal minimum earnings requirement but you would normally expect to earn above it
- not able to get work because of coronavirus:
- you may be eligible to claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - payments made to you through the scheme will count as earnings
- and you’re not eligible for self-employed income support but would expect to earn at least the minimum income requirement
If you’re claiming Universal Credit
If you are now claiming Universal Credit and were getting:
- Tax-Free Childcare, you cannot apply or reconfirm for Tax-Free Childcare - if you stop claiming Universal Credit you can apply for Tax-Free Childcare again
- 30 hours free childcare, and you meet the revised minimum income requirement or would expect to normally, you should apply or reconfirm if you already have a childcare account
If you missed the 31 March deadline
If you’ve missed the application or reconfirmation deadline for 30 hours free childcare, you should apply or reconfirm if you already have a childcare account.
Local authorities will be able to extend the validity dates on 30 hours codes for eligible critical worker parents during the summer term.
If you’re a critical worker
If you’re working more
If you’re a critical worker you may have exceeded the maximum income threshold of £100,000 per year. If this is because of increased hours as a direct result of coronavirus, you’ll still be eligible for 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare for the current tax year.
Apply or reconfirm
Find out about Tax-Free Childcare and how to apply.
Find out about 30 hours free childcare and how to apply.
Sign in to your childcare account to confirm your details.
For further information, please visit:
You may be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare if your circumstances are as follows:
- Both parents are earning 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 (around £6,240 per year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 (around £5,800 per year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old
- This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on a zero hours contract
- The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work
- Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they 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
- Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
- If a non-EEA national, the parent must have recourse to public funds.
Who will not qualify?
A parent will not meet the criteria when:
- Either parent has an income of more than £100,000
- Either parent is a non-EEA national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds)
What happens if a parent loses eligibility?
- They will receive a “grace period” – this means they will be able to keep their childcare for a short period.
Once the “grace period” has lapsed, the child will be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement.
Please have a look at the following documents for further details:
Eligibility will be checked by HMRC via a website and will be based on actual income earned.
When to apply
You can apply from when your child is 2 years and 36 weeks old.
When your child turns 3
When they can get 30 hours from
Recommended time to apply
1 September to 31 December
15 October to 30 November
1 January to 31 March
15 January to 28 February
1 April to 31 August
15 June to 31 July
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.
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.
The following link offers a guidance on how to access your account once you have already set an account up:
HMRC will manage the application process and send out reminders to parents about the need to reconfirm their eligibility. Parents should receive two reminders to reconfirm (4 weeks and 2 weeks before their reconfirmation deadline). If a parent’s details have not changed, they only need to tick a box in their childcare service account to confirm their details remain the same.
If a parent misses the reconfirmation deadline, they will receive a message telling them that they are no longer eligible for 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare.
The eligibility code for a parent / child combination will not change over time even if its validity lapses and a new application is submitted.
If a parent’s circumstances change and they are no longer eligible for the additional 15 hours of free childcare, a ‘grace period’ will apply so that children can continue with their free place for a short period of time, whilst alternate arrangements can be made.
If a parent’s circumstances change again whilst they are in the grace period, they may reapply to HMRC and become eligible again.
If you are no longer eligible, you can still access the 15-hour universal early education entitlement for 3 and 4-year-olds.
- Tips for using the 30 hrs funded early education and childcare
The term from which a child can access their extended entitlement is the same as the terms for children accessing the 15-hour universal entitlement
The table below shows when a child becomes eligible:
A child born between
…is eligible for an extended entitlement place…
1 April and 31 August
From the start of the autumn term (September to December) following their third birthday until statutory school age.
1 September and 31 December
From the start of the spring term (January to March) following their third birthday until statutory school age.
1 January and 31 March
From the start of the summer term (April to August) following their third birthday until statutory school age.
Providers participating in the scheme include:
- private nursery schools
- private or voluntary pre-schools or playgroups
- private or voluntary day nurseries
- nursery units of independent schools
- nursery classes in primary schools
To access a list of participating providers click here.
Contact the 'Childcare Choices' Customer Interaction Centre (which should also be used if you have any queries):
Tel: 0300 123 4097
Does my child have to take up the full 30 hours?
It is the parents’ choice whether you wish to take up the full extended entitlement and this should be discussed with your chosen provider. You may be attending a provider who provides all year round care and therefore the entitlement will be stretched over the full number of weeks that the provider operates.
Can I share my 30 hours across more than one childcare provider?
You can use the additional 15 hours a week for your child to attend a breakfast club, after school club or with a childminder.
How flexibly can I use my 30 hours childcare and can I use it across more than one provider?
Your child is entitled to access up to 30 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, which is equivalent of a total of 1140 hours per year. This entitlement can be stretched over the full number of weeks a provider is open. You may be able to choose a different pattern of attendance depending on which school / childcare provider you choose to use.
There are some conditions related to flexibility
- no session is to be longer than 10 hours
- no minimum session length (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
- not before 6:00am or after 8:00pm
Your first choice of school/childcare provider might not be able to offer the full 30 hours. In that case you can nominate up to three childcare providers for the delivery of their entitlement, but the government has set a maximum of two sites that can be used in a single day to deliver the childcare.
You are also able to use the 15 hours’ extra hours before and after school and during school holidays, again depending on which school / childcare provider may offer this and you choose to use (including childminders).
Do all school and childcare providers have to deliver the 30 hours free childcare?
It is not the law nor compulsory for schools or childcare providers to offer the additional 15 hours over and above the current 15 hours’ entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds. It is the school / childcare providers’ individual choice whether they provide places for the additional 15 hours, not the choice of the Royal Borough.
The local authority has a duty to ensure your child can access a place but such places cannot be guaranteed at a particular provider.
The Royal Borough provides support and guidance to schools and providers to enable them to do so if they wish.
There may be good reasons why the School/ Provider does not offer the additional 15 hours:
- They may not have any spare nursery places for 3 & 4 year olds or the capacity to create new places or operate for longer hours.
- Some schools / childcare providers that already offer a flexible choice for parents may review what they currently provide and feel the impact of changing what they offer to include the additional 15 hours free childcare would be detrimental to their current service.
- There may be a cost / sustainability factor for them to take into consideration.
Any provider wishing to participate in the extended entitlement will be encouraged to do so and will be added to the directory of participating providers.
If you have any other questions, please do contact a member or the Kensington and Chelsea Family Information Service by emailing: Bi-boroughChildcareEarlyEd@rbkc.gov.uk; or calling: 07814 804262.