Childcare Costs

15 Hour Childcare Funding & 30 Hour Funding

Early Education And Childcare Costs

All parents and carers of 3 and 4 year old children are able to claim up to 570 hours a year (split over 3 funding blocks) of early education and childcare (Universal Childcare support). Some parents and carers may also be eligible to claim up to an additional 570 hours a year (split over 3 funding blocks) of funded early education and childcare - known as 30 hours. Some parents of 2 year old children may also be eligible to claim funded childcare or early education.

Looking for childcare can not only be costly for parents but this can also be fairly complicated. Thousands of parents are missing out because they are not made aware of the various ways they can get help with childcare costs. Here are a few tips that could save you money when looking into your childcare options.

15 Hours Free Childcare

Every eligible child is entitled to access a maximum of 570 hours of childcare for 2 year olds. This is usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

This is split into three funding blocks, on the following basis:

  • no session to be longer than 10 hours

  • minimum session length is 30 minutes (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)

  • not before 6am or after 8pm

  • a maximum of 2 early years settings or providers in a single day

30 Hours Funding

All families can currently claim up to 15 hours a week of childcare or early education for 3 and 4 year old children. Working parents may be able to claim additional hours to support with childcare costs, known as 30 hours.

You need to have applied for and received a eligible code from HMRC before the start of the funding block for your child will be eligible. You will be given a start date for this code which will match the day you apply. This date must be before the end of the previous funding block.

Working Tax Credit

You can claim the childcare element of Working Tax Credit if you are a single parent and you are in work for at least 16 hours a week. This also applies if you are part of a couple and you are both in work for at least 16 hours.

If your child is under 12 years old and you work full or part-time, you can claim Tax-Free Childcare which also applies if you are due to start work soon. This means for every £8 you pay into your Childcare Account, the government adds £2 which could amount to up to £2,000 of funding each year. You may be entitled to up to 70% of childcare costs covered up to a maximum of £122.50 per week for one child, or £210 for two or more children in childcare, depending on your family circumstances.

Universal Credit

If you or your partner are working and claiming Universal Credit you could get up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible which could be up to £646 each month for one child or up to £1108 with two or more children. You can get the childcare element of universal credit if you are a single parent and you are in work or you are in a couple and you both work or one of you works and the other is unable to work because they are ill, a carer or absent from the household.

As an unemployed parent, you may be entitled to up to 15 hours of free childcare. Take a look at the Online Childcare Calculator to see which option works best for you and your family.

Already getting help with childcare costs?

This doesn’t always mean you are limited to one funding option. You may be able to apply for more than one funding scheme at a time depending on your eligibility. Have a look at the below guide to see if you can apply for more than one scheme: