Everything you need to know about the new 15 hours of funded childcare

Childcare setting

by Kate Guild |
Updated on

Earlier this year in March, as part of the Spring Budget, the Government announced new support for working parents in the form of additional funded childcare. The move is part of a tiered scheme to help working families afford childcare and aims to provide 30 hours of 'free' childcare hours by 2025. The first step in this scheme is to extend existing childcare support to parents of children who are two years old.

How does the scheme work?

From January, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will be able to register to access 15 hours of free childcare per week from April 2024.

Applications for the scheme will open on 2nd January. However, the recommendation is that you apply in mid-January but before the end of February. If you apply before mid-January your application may expire and you’ll have to apply again. This also gives you enough time to get the code and have your application approved.

Who is eligible for the scheme for?

If you have a child who is 2 years old before the 31st March 2024 and you and your partner are both working parents who both work over 16 hours per week, earning at least £8,670 a year individually - but earning under £100,000 per year individually - then you’ll be eligible for the funded 15 hours per week of childcare. You also need to be a British or Irish Citizen or have settled or pre-settled status, as well as permission to access public funds.

What further support is planned?

This scheme is one step of the Government’s wider plan to support working parents. They also announced that from September 2024, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended to all children from the age of nine months.

Additionally, from September 2025, working parents of children under the age of five will be entitled to 30 hours of funded childcare per week.

Anything else I should know?

The scheme only runs over term-time, so across 38 weeks instead of 52.

You will only receive the funded childcare hours the term after your child’s birthday. So for example, if your child's birthday is on 1st October, the funded childcare hours will kick in the January term. The nursery terms start on 1st January, 1st April and 1st September.

Lastly, a word of warning. It’s been reported that currently, only 17% of nurseries can offer these funded childcare hours, mostly because there’s been a lack of information from the government about the logistical rollout of the scheme.

Nurseries are also struggling under a lack of funding, with many simply not having enough resources to take on the extra children, because of staffing and spacing needs. Because of this, it’s important to talk to your nursery or childminder about whether they’ll be able to offer this scheme.

Additionally, if you are on maternity leave (and still employed) you will still be entitled to apply for the hours.

About the expert

Kate Guild is the co-founder of Nugget Savings. Katie has a background in tech sales and a degree in politics. She feels Nugget is the perfect blend of her passion for feminism and building businesses.

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