Heard about the new free childcare allowance starting this September, but not sure how it works, or whether you’re eligible?

Six things you need to know about your free childcare allowance:

1) What is happening?

From September 2017, the three-and four-year old children of working parents in England will be entitled to 30 hours per week of government-funded early education and childcare during term time – which works out at 38 weeks of the year¹.

The changes are equal to 1,140 hours paid child care per year in total and an average annual savings of £5,000. The allowance can be used during school holidays and weekends.

2) Am I eligible?

Both parents (or just yourself f you are a single parent) need to be working and earning, on average, at least the equivalent of 16 hours on the national living/minimum wage per week. This means someone over 25 would need to earn £120 per week.

The number of hours worked is less important than the money earned, so if you are a high earner, earning under £100,000 per year (see below) you could be working only a few hours per week and still be eligible.

If you are self-employed or on a zero-hours contracts you will also qualify for the allowance so long as you meet the earnings threshold. If you are newly self-employed, you do not need to demonstrate you meet the income criteria for 12 months.

3) When might I not be eligible?

If one parent is not in paid employment (or neither of you works), or if one of you earns more than £100,000 per year you won’t be eligible.

There are exceptions for parents who are on parental, maternity, paternity, adoption or sick leave but if you are studying or in training you will not be eligible unless you are also working 16 hours a week on the minimum wage.

If one parent is in receipt of benefits relating to caring responsibilities or has a disability and the other parent is working, you will be eligible. However, if you are a single parent who is disabled or has substantial caring responsibilities you will not be eligible.

If you are separated, eligibility requirements will apply to the parent with whom the child ‘normally lives’, and any partners of parents will also be required to meet them. Non EU nationals may also not be eligible.

4) How old does my child have to be?

As with the universal 15-hour entitlement, children become eligible the term after they turn three. All three and four year- olds will remain entitled to 15 hours of early education per week during term time (570 hours per year), regardless of their parents work status and earnings.

5) Where do I sign up?

You must make your application the term before you wish to start receiving the entitlement.

As part of the application process, you will need to create a Government Gateway account and provide your name, address, and national insurance number, as well as the same information for your partner (if you have one).

You will be asked if you expect to meet the income requirements over the coming three months and whether you are in receipt of any relevant benefits. Once your eligibility has been confirmed, you will receive a unique 11-digit code beginning with either 5,000 or 11, which you must take to your chosen childcare provider(s).

Your provider will then be required to confirm the validity of your code through their local authority.

6) Which childcare providers can I use?

You can take up a free place with any provider on Ofsted’s Early Years Register. This includes childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, pre-schools and nursery schools².

Funded places can also be taken up by primary schools offering early year’s provision (nursery classes only – you are not eligible if your child has started reception year) and childminders registered with an Ofsted-registered childminder agency.

You cannot take up your free place with a nanny (even an Ofsted-registered one) or any other providers not on Ofsted’s Early Years Register. Your provider should have a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ grade from Ofsted. Providers with a lower grade will only be able to provide free places at the discretion of their local authority.

You can split your funded hours between up to two different providers per day, for example between a childminder and sessional nursery or pre-school. If providers have separate Ofsted registrations but are based on one site (e.g. a breakfast club and a nursery) they will be treated as one provider.

To read more click here.

Previous News Posts

Sarah Sen, Sen Consulting joins Ten2Two Talking SME Podcast to discuss hybrid working

Talking SME Podcast: How to Make Hybrid Working Work

Blogs, Latest News

Sarah Sen, HR Consultant at Sen HR Consulting, shares her top tips on hybrid working. She talks about the key considerations for employers when moving to a hybrid working arrangement. And details the great benefits it can offer and the pitfalls to avoid. Sarah Sen is an award-winning HR and dynamic working consultant. She works […]

Coaching Partners

Next Hampshire Workshop: Find your Zone of Genius! 

Hampshire, Latest News

Find your Zone of Genius!  Wednesday 26 May 20:00 Identify your strongest abilities for career pivot or change. Are you struggling to work out your transferable skills?  Join us to discover the secret to unlocking your natural talents.   This workshop is for you if you are: Changing careers Writing a CV Developing your personal […]

Polly Collingridge joins Talking SME with Ten2Two to discuss Employee Wellbeing

Talking SME Podcast: the impacts of Employee Wellbeing

Blogs, Latest News

In the latest episode of the Ten2Two podcast Talking SME, Jane O’Gorman chats with Polly Collingridge, Wellbeing Associate at Your Employee Wellbeing.  They discuss the impacts of employee wellbeing and how businesses can be affected both positively and negatively. Polly is passionate about helping people get rid of the barriers that stop them from thriving, […]