If you’re a working parent you could also be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week, bringing the total up to 30 hours per week (in term time), or 1,140 hours per year.
Does my child qualify for 30 hours free childcare?
- Your child must be three or four year old and not in full time school (reception year)
- You, and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at your national minimum wage (£125 at the national living wage, less if you are on the national minimum 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 you, or your partner, expect to earn £100,000 or more
- The earnings limit does not apply if you are self- employed and started your business less than 12 months ago
- You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers
You can find out more at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Check which childcare offer is best for you by using the childcare calculator.
When do I apply for the 30 hours childcare?
Apply as soon as possible.
Your child can start in their childcare place the term after they turn 3 years old and have received a valid 30 hours code, whichever is later.
The dates your child can start their additional hours are:
- 1 September
- 1 January
- 1 April
My child is born between 1 January and 31 March
My child’s funded place can start in the April after their 3rd birthday and I need to apply before 31 March.
My child is born between 1 April and 31 August
My child’s funded place can start in the September after their 3rd birthday and I need to apply before 31 August.
My child is born between 1 September and 31 December
My child’s funded place can start in the January after their 3rd birthday and I need to apply before 31 December.
Where do I find out more and apply?
What happens next?
- After you have made your application, you may be asked for more information or you will receive an eligibility code
- Once you have the eligibility code, take the code, your national insurance number and your child’s date of birth, to your chosen childcare provider
- You can choose for your child to attend more than one childcare provider; however you cannot use more than two sites in one day and you must give the code to both providers and let them know that you are using more than one. This will help them better support your child
- You and your childcare provider will agree a start date for your child
- You will also be required to reconfirm your eligibility with HMRC every three months. If you do not do this, your child may lose their additional 15 hours of childcare. HMRC will send you a reconfirmation email or you can log into your childcare account to reconfirm your child’s eligibility
What is a childcare provider?
30 hours free childcare is available at participating:
- local authority schools (including nurseries, infant and primary schools)
- nurseries, pre-schools and day care providers
- before and after school clubs, wraparound care
- holiday clubs
If you need help finding a childcare provider or are not sure who you can contact, please go to www.luton.gov.uk/fis or call Family Information Service on 01582 548888.
How can use the additional hours be used?
Providers offer a range of options; just ask your chosen provider for theirs. Offers include:
- up to 30 hours a week in term time
- ‘stretched’ over up to 52 weeks a year with less hours each week
- breakfast clubs
- after school clubs
- holiday clubs
- between 6am to 8pm but not longer than 10 hours
The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover:
- the costs of snacks or meals, though your child may be eligible for free school meals - find out more at www.luton.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals
- consumables, such as nappies or sun cream
- additional hours
- additional activities such as trips
Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider.
However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options. Ask your chosen provider for their fees.
- you don’t have to use the full 30 hours, just what you need
- the hours can be split by up to two providers a day, just get the code checked and let both providers know
Links to other useful information