30 Hours Free Funding For
3 & 4 Year Olds
3 & 4 Year Olds
In September 2017, the government is planning to introduce its flagship promise of 30-hours free childcare for working parents of three- and four-year-olds.
It has thrown up quite a few questions and how it differs from the current 15 hours childcare offer. Below we address some of those questions including how to sign up for the 30 hours offer.ELIGIBILITY
You will be eligible for the 30-hour funded childcare offer if:
You earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or minimum wage per week: for example, £120 per week if you are 25 or older.
There is no requirement to work a certain amount of hours per week – it is all about how much you earn.
This means if you only work 10 hours a week but earn £12 per hour, you will meet the minimum earning threshold. Apprentices are also eligible as long as they earn the equivalent to 16 hours at the apprentice minimum wage.
You earn less than £100,000 per year.
This applies if you are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract and expect to meet the earning criteria on averageover the three months after you have applied for the 30-hours. HMRC will look at data such as your previous earnings to consider whether you are likely to meet the criteria and may contact you for further information if they are unsure.
If you are starting up your own business, you will not be expected to meet the minimum earning criteria in your first year of trading. You will need to provide a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number to HMRC so that they can check your income at the end of the tax year.
If you are not working but you expect to take up paid work within 14 days, you can still apply for 30 hours, as long as you expect to meet the income criteria over the coming three months.
If you are a single parent and meet the above criteria, you will be eligible for the 30 hours. If you live with a partner, you both must meet the above criteria. This still applies if one of you is not the child’s parent – for example, if you have remarried or have started living with a new partner. If you are separated/divorced from your child’s parent, the eligibility rules will only apply to the parent that the child normally lives with (and their new partner if they are part of the same household).
You will not have to meet the minimum earnings criteria if:
You and your partner are employed but one or both of you is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity, adoption leave, or on statutory sick pay
You are employed but your partner either has substantial caring responsibilities, or is disabled or incapacitated, or vice versa (i.e. your partner is employed but you have caring responsibilities or are disabled or incapacitated). This is dependent on you or your partner being entitled to specific disability or caring benefits.SIGNING UP FOR THE 30-HOURS
You will be able to apply for both the 30-hour offer and tax-free childcare using a single application available online via the Childcare Service.
To complete the application, you will need to provide details such as your name, address and national insurance number, as well as whether you expect to meet the income requirements over the next three months and whether you are in receipt of any benefits. If you live with a partner, you will need to provide the same information for them as well. This will enable HMRC to decide whether your child is eligible for the 30 hours (as well as tax-free childcare).
If you are eligible, you will be given an 11-digit code that you will need to take to your childcare provider along with your national insurance number and your child’s birth certificate.
Your provider will then use the government’s eligibility checking system to check the code is valid. If it is, they will be able to book your child’s place – but bear in mind that providers don’t have to take part in the 30-hour offer, so be sure to speak to your childcare provider about what they are able to offer for your family.
You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months and will receive a reminder text message or email from the government before the deadline. If you give false information about your eligibility, you could be fined up to £3000.