From September 2017 working parents of children aged 3 and 4 years old could be entitled for up to 30 hours free childcare a week.
Working includes employed persons, self-employed persons, and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria.
A child qualifies for free childcare if they are resident in the England and under compulsory school age:
- Both parents are working (or the sole parent in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average:
- A weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage (click here) and
- Less than £100,000 per year.
Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible. However the free childcare will be available where:
- Both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on:
- Parental leave
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Adoption leave
- Statutory sick leave
- One parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring; or
- One parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on specific benefits.
Once eligibility has been confirmed you will receive a code which you can then take to a provider of your choice (as long as they are signed up to deliver 30 hours free childcare) who will then validate the code. After successful validation of the code you will then be able to access your free childcare place.
Please refer to the diagram below.
Eligibility codes issued to parents will typically have a 3 month validity period.
Parents will be asked to reconfirm their eligibility on the GOV.uk website every 3 months, declaring any changes in their circumstances.
The government is also introducing a ‘Grace Period’ so that if a parent’s employment circumstances change they can retain their free childcare place for a set amount of time. This will:
- Provide continuity for the child
- Give parents the opportunity to regain employment; and;
- Give childcare providers certainty that if they offer a free childcare place, they will not risk having an empty place immediately following those changes in circumstances.
If you have any issues or difficulties with your online application please contact HMRC direct on 0300 1234 097.