Funded Childcare for working parents of children aged 2 and under

To make childcare more affordable for working parents, the government are expanding funded early education entitlement for working parents. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 may be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

Applications are now open for eligible working parents of 2-year-olds to receive 15 hours free childcare, starting from April 2024.

The expanded offer will be rolled out in phases as follows:

From April 2024, eligible working parents can now claim up to 15 hours funded childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year if they’re eligible. By September 2025, most working families with children under the age of 5 may be entitled to 30 hours of childcare support.

The expanded offer will be rolled out in phases as follows:

From April 2024, eligible 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 eligible working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3 year olds.

From September 2025, eligible working parents of children under the age of 5 may be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week.

Depending on your provider, these hours can be used over 38 weeks during term time, or up to 52 weeks.

The funding is not intended to cover the cost of consumables, meals or additional activities, such as trips. Providers may charge a fee for these additions.

When to apply 

If you’re eligible, you can start claiming funded early education the term after your child turns 2,

 A child turns 2 in the period Will become eligible for a 2 year funded place
 1st April - 31st August 1st September (Autumn term)
 1st September - 31st December 1st January (Spring term) 
 1st January - 31st March 1st April (Summer term) 

Applications are open from now until 31st March 2024. If you miss the deadline you won’t be able to start using the new entitlements from 1st April 2024. We encourage all parents to apply as soon as possible once they have received their code.

How do I apply? 

Check you meet the current eligibility criteria before you can claim 15 hours funded childcare. 

Apply for a code 

If you are eligible, you will need to apply for a code this usually takes around 20 minutes. You may find you’re eligible straight away, but this can take up to 7 days.

You’ll need to make sure you have the following information to hand before starting the application:

  • Your national insurance number (or unique taxpayer reference if you are self-employed).
  • The date you started or due to start work.
  • Details of any government support or benefits you receive.
  • UK birth certificate reference number (if you have one) for your child.

If your application is approved, you'll get a code for funded childcare to give to your childcare provider. You’ll need to take the code along to your chosen childcare provider, along with your National Insurance Number and your child’s date of birth.You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. If you apply more than 3 months before the term starts, you’ll have to reconfirm your eligibility in your account in order to keep your code valid.

How do I find a place?

Our Town Directory (external link) has a list of all the childcare services that offer this free entitlement.

You can search this list by area to find your nearest childcare providers. Alternatively, you can contact the Family Information service who will be able to provide a list of places best suited to you.

Once you know which childcare provider you are interested in you should contact them directly to visit and enrol your child.

What you need to know

Eligible parents are also able to access Tax-Free Childcare through the same application system. However, you don’t need to apply for Tax-Free Childcare to be eligible to apply for the 15 hours funded childcare.

What if I’m already registered for Tax-Free Childcare?

Parents must reconfirm that they are still eligible for Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) every 3 months. When eligible parents reconfirm, they will receive a code which will also enable them to access the new offer.

For those parents whose reconfirmation windows in late February and March, HMRC are taking additional steps to ensure every parent is able to give their code to their provider in good time.

If your reconfirmation window opens on or after the 15th February (and before 1st April), HMRC will now have sent you a letter with a temporary code, which will start with 11. If you haven’t received your letter by 15th February, you should contact HMRC.

Once you receive two codes, one from your letter beginning with 11 and one from the website beginning with 50, please give your provider the code from the website beginning with 50, as this is your permanent digital code for your child.

If you only have one code (beginning with 11) then you can use this code to start using your entitlements. Please remember that once your reconfirmation window opens, you will still need to reconfirm your eligibility through your childcare account and share the digital code you will receice that time (beginning with 50) with your chosen childcare provider.

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.

© Wigan Council