Expanding Access to Government Funded Childcare:

A Significant Step for Working Families

Significant expansions in government funded childcare have been announced, aimed at making it easier for parents to balance their careers and family life.

Current Eligibility and Upcoming Changes:

Currently, parents who work and earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage, earning less than £100,000 adjusted net income per year, are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare a week for children aged three to four. The government is now expanding this scheme to include children from age 9 months, with the roll out beginning in stages starting April 2024.

Application Timeline and Process:

In the first phase of the government funded childcare, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will receive 15 hours of free childcare per week from April 2024. Applications will open on 2 January 2024, and parents will need to reconfirm their eligibility every three months. The government recommends applying between mid-January and the end of February to avoid needing to reconfirm eligibility immediately before the offer starts in April. Applications can be made via the Childcare Choices website.

By September 2024, the 15 hours of free childcare will extend to all children from the age of nine months. From September 2025, working parents of children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week.

Eligibility for ‘Working’ Parents:

Working parents who individually earn more than £8,670 but less than £100,000 adjusted net income per year are eligible. For couples, both must earn at least this amount, and neither can earn more than £100,000. Detailed criteria are available on the Childcare Choices website, which covers various situations such as irregular working hours or receiving certain benefits.

Supporting Nurseries and Childcare Availability:

To ensure adequate government funded childcare places, the government is investing over £400 million in 2024-25 to increase the hourly rates paid to local authorities. The national average rates for 2024-25 will be £11.22 for under twos, £8.28 for two-year-olds, and £5.88 for three- and four-year-olds.

How to Apply for Free Childcare:

Parents can apply for 30 hours of government funded childcare by signing into their government childcare account, accessible here. A Government Gateway user ID is required for login.

This expanded childcare scheme represents the government’s commitment to supporting families and ensuring accessible, quality childcare for all. Read our previous blog for more information

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