The scheme will come into force from 1 September 2017.
Mums and dads will need to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for the free childcare.
Parents will need to meet the following criteria to be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare:
- Earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum or living wage, (this equates to £120 a week for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week for each parent between 21 and 24 years old), but not more than £100,000.
- The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
- One or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or statutory sick leave.
- One parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
- They are newly self-employed, they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
- If one or both parents is a non-EEA national, the parent applying must have recourse to public funds.
Source: Government website.
If a parent loses eligibility after qualifying for the 30 hours childcare, they will receive a “grace period” and be able to keep their childcare for a short period.
After this, the parent will go back down to the 15-hour entitlement.
How To Apply
To apply for the free childcare, visit the Childcare Choices website and press “Apply now”. You will then be directed to the Government’s website that will require you to sign in to the childcare service as a parent.
The application process should take around 20 minutes and once you have a childcare service account, you will be able to apply for the childcare.
Make sure you have your national insurance number, taxpayer reference and details of any government support you get to hand.
Once you’ve applied, the application will be reviewed by HMRC.
If you are eligible for free childcare, you will be sent a code so you can arrange your child’s place at nursery before 1 September 2017.
Visit the Childcare Choices website here.
What If My Child Is Younger?
Parents of two-year-olds are able to apply for 15 hours free childcare per week. If eligible, you’re entitled to 570 hours of free childcare a year, to use flexibly.
To find out if you’re eligible, click here. If you are, parents are advised to contact their childcare provider or local council to find out more.
What If My Child Is Older?
Tax-Free Childcare is available for children up to the age of 12 (or 17, if the child has a disability). This is where for every 80p you pay in - the government will top up an extra 20p. This is equivalent of the tax most people pay which gives the scheme its ‘tax-free’ name. You can read more about the tax-free scheme here.