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30 hours Free Childcare for 3 and 4 year olds

Link to Childcare Account

You may need to supply further information for your #30hours #childcare application. Leave time to get your code at: www.gov.uk/childcareaccount

Is it for me?

  • For working families in England
  • With 3 and 4 year-old children
  • An extra 15 hours a week of free childcare - so 30 hours in total
  • A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more childcare provider

If you are eligible, 30 hours is available for 38 weeks of the year (just like the existing 15 hours scheme). Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ your 30 hours entitlement over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week.

You and any partner, must each expect to earn (on average) the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at your national minimum wage (£120 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.

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. Term start dates are 1st September, 1st January and 1st April.

You may get asked for further information as part of your application, so apply well ahead of the start date for each term.

To keep your 30 hours free childcare place, you need to check your details are up to date every 3 months.

30 hours free childcare is available at participating:

  • Full day care (e.g nurseries)
  • Schools (nurseries)
  • Childminders
  • Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
  • Children's Centres
  • After school clubs

The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or 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.


Please note the following guidance from the Department for Education.

  • that whilst most parents applying for 30 hours free childcare will get an immediate determination of eligibility, HMRC may require further information to make the decision for some parents. Parents should therefore apply in good time;
  • that for 30 hours free childcare, a parent will need to reconfirm that their details are up to date through their childcare account every three months;
  • that a child may be able to continue to take-up their free place for a limited period known as the grace period, after the parent falls out of eligibility, to enable them to seek new employment and regain eligibility for 30 hours;
  • that a child is only entitled to start their 30 hours place the term following the child’s third birthday or the term following receipt of a valid 30 hours eligibility code, whichever is later;
  • that they can choose to continue to take up their child’s free place at a private, voluntary or independent childcare provider until their child reaches compulsory school age (the term following the child’s fifth birthday), if they choose not to take up their child’s right to a place in a state-funded school reception class, in the September following their child’s fourth birthday;
  • that a place in a school nursery does not guarantee admission to the school and parents must apply for a place at the school, if they want their child to transfer to the reception class;
  • that they cannot take the additional free hours, once their child is taking up a full time place in a state-funded school reception class or an independent school reception class.

The above guidance was published by: Department for Education; Early education and childcare, Statutory guidance for Local Authorities

Further information

Childcare Choices website

HM Government Tax-Free Childcare webpage

In order to make an application, parents need to open an online account through the Government Gateway webpage

If you have any problems with application process, accessing your childcare account or need to apply over the phone, please contact the Childcare Service Customer Interaction Centre tel: 0300 123 4097

If you need help with finding Childcare in Nottingham City, please contact the Families Information Service telephone: 0800 458 4114 or email: fis@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

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