Am I eligible for 30 hours free childcare?

The extended 15 hours entitlement will go live to all qualifying parents* of 3 or 4 year olds in September 2017.

To qualify for the additional hours both parents or parent if a lone family, must meet the following criteria:

  • Both parents are working** (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each earns, on average:
    • a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and
    • less than £100,000 per year.

The minimum income requirement for a parent is £120 a week. (or c.£6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old, £112.80 a week (or c.£5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old and £56 a week for apprentices in their first year.   

  • A parent must expect (on average) to earn the above amount over the coming three months. The eligibility criteria have been designed to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes or those who are about to start employment or increase their working hours.
    • For example, a parent who is on a zero-hours contract will get work some weeks, but not others, and may not know in advance if they will have work in any given week. If, on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage, their child will qualify for 30 hours of free childcare.
  • Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible for the extended entitlement EXCEPT where:
    • Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity, adoption leave, or on statutory sick pay
    • One parent is employed and one parent either has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits.

Can I get further help with my childcare costs?

The government has developed a number of new ways to help parents with their childcare costs for children of all ages.


  • *A 'parent' means a person who has parental responsibility for the child or care of the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earnings threshold. Foster carers are eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the criteria set out above for their own children. Foster carers are not eligible for the extended entitlement for the children that they foster.
  • **Working includes employed persons, self-employed persons and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria.

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