From September 2017, the government is aiming to make childcare more affordable for working parents by increasing free early education from 15 up to 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year for 3 and 4 year old children who are eligible. This extended entitlement is equivalent to an additional 570 hours of childcare over the year.
View the feedback (external link) received from parents accessing 30 hours free childcare in Wigan.
Do I meet the criteria?
Find a 30 hour childcare provider
Finding a suitable childcare provider can be difficult, that’s why we have identified all the providers in Wigan borough taking part in the 30 hours scheme to make it easier for you – see our list below and look out for the 30 hours indicator.
You can also search by Ofsted rating, location and school and nursery pick-ups, allowing you to find a suitable provider for all your family needs.
Shared 30 hours
A childcare partnership is a great way of providing greater flexibility to you as a parent or carer, plus some childcare providers may not be able to offer the full 30 hour entitlement for a variety of reasons.
As a parent you can use no more than 2 childcare providers a day to enable you to access the 30 hours of care. This could be using a childminder to provide wrap around care for your children outside of school hours, or using an out of school club as an extension of care at the end of the day.
The 30 hours indicator on their listing will help identify whether a provider can offer the whole 30 hours or instead provide it as a partnership with another provider.
Accessing the 30 hour entitlement
If you use more than one provider, you will be required to agree with your providers who will be responsible for delivering the universal 15 hours and who will provide the additional 15 hour extended entitlement.
As long as the minimum universal 15 hours of care are used, you are not obliged to take up the remaining 15 hours. Any hours over the 30 hour extended entitlement must be paid for by you, the parent/carer.
Your chosen provider(s) may be happy for you to stretch the entitlement over the course of 51 weeks of the year rather than term time only. Stretching the entitlement will reduce the number of hours you get per week but it can help ease childcare costs over the course of the year. For example, you may take 22 hours over 51 weeks of the year rather than 30 hours a week.
You will be required to confirm your eligibility with HMRC approximately every 3 months. Failure to do so will result in funding for the additional 15 hours being withdrawn. Should you find that your circumstances change and you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, you will enter what is referred to as a ‘grace period’. You will be notified that the grace period has been implemented and you will still be able to have access to a funded place until this period comes to an end.
Should you become eligible during the grace period, once you have confirmed this with HMRC, you will not need to do anything and can continue to access the funded place as normal. If you continue to not meet the eligibility criteria after the grace period you will need to make access and payment arrangements with your provider for any hours above the universal 15 hours.
Can I get further help with my childcare costs?
Parents can access further help from the government to assist them with childcare costs for children of all ages.