30 hours free early education for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds (extended entitlement)
All three- and four-year-old children in the UK receive 15 hours of free childcare per week. Some children may also be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare, otherwise known as the '30 Hours Childcare' or 'Extended Entitlement'. This entitlement would overall amount to 1,140 hours of funded childcare.
Who is eligible?
These additional 15 hours is exclusively for working families that meet the eligibility criteria.
You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage).
If you, or your partner, are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or you're unable to work because you are disabled or have caring responsibilities, you could still be eligible.
You can't get 30 hours free childcare if either you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more.
Check if you are eligible: 30 hours free childcare | Childcare choices
How can I apply?
You must apply directly to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) (not the Local Authority or the Childcare Provider) on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-30-hours-free-childcare
In order to apply you will need the following information to hand for you and (if relevant) your partner:
- your National Insurance Number (N.I.N)
- if you're self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference
- the date you started, or are due to start work
- details of any other government support you get
Note: If you are also applying for Tax-Free Childcare, you will only apply to HMRC once for both schemes.
When do I need 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.
Please note for children who may be eligible from September, parents will need to apply for a 30 Hours funded place by 31st July of the same year.
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.
How would I know if my application is successful?
If eligible, HMRC will set up a secure account for parents and the parent will receive an eligibility code to their secure account.
Multiple birth siblings will each have their own code.
Note: Please note that if you are eligible, you will have to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months to keep your extended entitlement active.
How do I use the code?
Parents will take their code to an approved childcare provider (nursery or childminder) of their choice to show they are eligible for the additional 15 hours’ free childcare. Your early years provider will also need to see a copy of your child’s birth certificate (if not already [provided) and will ask you to sign a declaration form
Your childcare provider will then validate your code and allocate your place.
When can my child access these additional hours?
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.
Can my child claim these hours at any childcare provider?
The 30 hours free childcare or extended entitlement can used at settings that are registered to accept these hours, such as:
- nursery classes in primary schools
- private nursery schools
- private or voluntary pre-schools or playgroups
- private or voluntary day nurseries
- nursery units of independent schools
Not all childcare providers are registered to accept the 30 hours.
On the following link you can find a list of Kensington and Chelsea providers that offer funded places: Westminster childcare providers offering 30 hours free childcare.
What happens if my circumstances change and I loose eligibility?
There is a “grace period” – this means your child will be able to keep their place for a short period.
Once the “grace period” has lapsed, your child will be entitled to the universal 15 hour entitlement.
What do I do if there is a problem with my account?
Contact the 'Childcare Choices Service' (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.
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.
If you have any other questions, please do contact a member or the Westminster Family Information Service:
Email: Bi-boroughChildcareEarlyEd@rbkc.gov.uk; or
Telephone: 07971 625922
Last Updated 30/03/2023