Early Years Funding
Who can get funded childcare now and how does it work?
At the moment all three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of funded early education per week in term time, or 38 weeks a year.
Children of eligible working parents are entitled to 30 hours funded early education hours per week in term time, or 38 weeks a year. Both parents must earn at least £152 per week to qualify.
Two-year-olds in England can also have 15 hours of funded early education under certain circumstances, for example if the family receives Universal Credit.
Funded hours are available from the start of the term after the child reaches the relevant age.
More information can be found here.
What other help with childcare costs is currently available?
Under the tax-free childcare scheme, the government pays £2 for every £8 families contribute, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (£4,000 for disabled children).
The money can be used for approved childcare including nurseries, childminders and wrap around care. It can be used alongside funded childcare hours if parents qualify for both.
To be eligible a parent and their partner each need to earn (on average) £152 per week but less than £100,000 per year.
Parents claiming universal credit who aren’t using the tax-free childcare scheme can claim back up to 85% of childcare costs.
Parents under 20 in England who are at school or sixth form college, can also receive weekly payments under Care to Learn scheme, worth £160 per child per week outside London and £175 inside the capital.
March 2023 Budget announcement:
Upcoming Changes to Childcare Support
As announced in the Spring Budget 2023 the financial support that is available to parents to help with the cost of childcare is increasing. These include major changes to make it easier for parents with childcare responsibilities to move into or take on more paid work. Starting from April 2024, existing childcare support will be expanded in phases. By, September 2025, working parents with children aged 9 months old to when they start school will be eligible for 30 hours childcare support.
Furthermore, from 28 June 2023 eligible working parents claiming Universal Credit will be able to receive more financial help with their childcare costs, and additional financial support with upfront payments when moving into paid work or increasing their working hours
The Current Offer
In England, all parents and carers of 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours a week childcare support with registered childcare providers. Eligible working parents and carers of children aged 3-4 can also get an additional 15 hours childcare support, bringing their total up to 30 hours a week.
Some parents of 2-year-old children may also be entitled to 15 hours support.
Your hours can be used per week for 38 weeks of the year (during school term time). You may be able use your hours for up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week. Check with your childcare provider to find out if this is something they offer.
You can use Tax-Free Childcare or Universal Credit for Childcare whilst claiming your 15 or 30 hours of childcare support.
Check here to find the right offer for you and how to apply for 30 hours of childcare
The Upcoming Expansion
Starting from April 2024, existing childcare support will be expanded in phases. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.
The changes are being introduced gradually to make sure that providers can meet the needs of more families. This means that:
From April 2024, working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours childcare support.
From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to all children from the age of 9 months to 3-year-olds.
From September 2025, working parents of children under the age of 5 will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.
Like the existing offer, depending on your provider, these hours can be used over 38 weeks of the year (during school term time), or up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week.
Government help with childcare costs for parents. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support. Visit the Childcare Choices website for more information.
Universal Credit for Childcare
From 28 June 2023, working parents on Universal Credit will be able to receive more financial help with their childcare costs from a registered provider. This will be to up to the maximum amount of £951 per month for 1 child or up to £1,630 per month for 2 or more children. Eligible parents claiming Universal Credit will also be able to get additional help with their upfront childcare costs when moving into paid work or increasing their working hours so that they can more easily pay their next set of costs. Parents who are moving into paid work or increasing their working hours can speak to their Universal Credit work coach who can provide more information.