30 hours childcare offer
Information for parents
Following the Spring 2023 Budget announcement, the Government are planning to expand the scheme as follows:
- April 2024: Eligible two-year-old will get 15 hours of free childcare per week
- September 2024: Eligible children between nine months and two years will get 15 hours
- September 2025: Eligible children between nine months and three years will get 30 hours
If you wish to start accessing the 30 hours of childcare you must make an application via HMRC. If eligible you will receive an 11 digit eligibility code. Parents must renew this code approximately every three months via HMRC. Reminders will be sent by HMRC.
Over the next 3 months you and your partner (if you have one) must each expect to earn at least:
- £2,167 if you're aged 23 or over
- £2,117 if you're aged 21 or 22
- £1,557 if you're aged 18 to 20
- £1,098 if you're under 18 or an apprentice
This is the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average.
You can use an average of how much you expect to earn over the current tax year if:
- you work throughout the year but do not get paid regularly
- you're self-employed and do not expect to earn enough in the next 3 months
You're eligible if you're 23 or over and do not have a regular income but earn £8,668 a year. This is the same as earning £2,167 every 3 months on average.
If you're self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago, you can earn less and still be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.
If you have more than one job, you can use your total earnings to work out if you meet the threshold. This includes:
- earnings from any employment
- earnings from any self-employment
If you're both employed and self-employed, you can use just your self-employment income if this would make you eligible. For example, if you expect your average self-employed earnings over the tax year to be more than you'll get over the next 3 months as an employee.
Certain types of income will not count towards the minimum amount you must earn to be eligible.
- income from investing in property
- pension payments
You cannot get 30 hours childcare if either you, or your partner, each individually expect to earn £100,000 or more.
If you are self-employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use and average of how much you expect make over the current tax year. This earnings limit does not apply if you're self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible for the extended entitlement EXCEPT where:
- both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity, adoption leave, or on statutory sick pay
- one parent is employed and one parent either has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits
Parents can be employed or self-employed.
Eligibility for 30 hours childcare to children in foster care has been extended to foster carers where the foster parents meet certain eligibility criteria, giving foster families the same support as other families where it is right for the child.
Children in foster care will be able to receive 30 hours free childcare, if the following criteria are met:
- that accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child's care plan, placing the child at the centre of the process and decision making
- that, in single parent foster families, the foster parent engages in paid work outside their role as a foster parent
- in two parent foster families, both partners engage in paid work outside their role as a foster parent. If one partner is not a foster parent then they must be in qualifying paid work and earn a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum/national living wage
You will need to speak to the child's social worker before applying. If they agree, you need to complete this application form. Once you and your partner (if you have one) have signed, the form must be returned to the child's social worker for approval. If your application is successful, you will get your eligibility code from Wiltshire Council Early Years & Childcare.
Up to 30 hours of free childcare* is available for 38 weeks of the year (if taken over school term time). Some childcare providers can stretch your entitlement across more weeks by taking fewer hours over each week (e.g. 24 hours over 47 weeks).
If you're currently benefiting from using the 15 hours of universal childcare, ask your childcare provider if they're offering the extended entitlement. Some providers may not be able to offer more hours, or they may only be able to offer a few extra hours. This may be due to places they have available or their opening times.
You can use the funding to pay for more than one childcare provider. This could be a nursery and a childminder, or two childminders.
* Parents can expect to pay for any meals or other consumables or additional activities offered by the provider, such as nappies or trips. Where parents choose to purchase additional hours, consumables or additional activities, this is a private matter between the provider and the parent. However, providers must offer alternative options, for example to bring in their own consumables or a packed lunch.
You can only use the funding with childcare providers registered to access Early Years Entitlement funding. This includes:
- pre-schools, play groups and nurseries
- out-of-school clubs (as long as they are listed on Ofsted's Early Years Register - this is different from the Childcare Register)
These also include early education and childcare provision run by schools.
Please note that not all providers are offering the extended entitlement (as they don't have to) please check with providers if they are offering it.
Use our Online Childcare Directory to find childcare, you can search by town or within a radius of a postcode.
Your chosen childcare provider(s) will need to check your eligibility, to do this you will be required to complete a consent form for the provider (to fulfil requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR).
Children may only start accessing the extended entitlement from the term following their third birthday AND the term following receipt of their eligibility code from HMRC, whichever is later. For the purpose of this funding, terms are defined as follows:
- Autumn Term : 1 September - 31 December
- Spring Term : 1 January - 31 March
- Summer Term: 1 April - 31 August
If you wish to apply for the extended entitlement, please see the below table:
|When your child turns 3||When they can access 30 hours||Recommended time to apply||Start date of code must be:|
|1 September to 31 December||Spring term starting 1 January||15 October to 30 November||31 December or before|
|1 January to 31 March||Summer term starting 1 April||15 January to 28 February||31 March or before|
|1 April to 31 August||Autumn term starting 1 September||15 June to 31 July||31 August or before|
For example, a child who turns three between 1 September and the 31 December will start their extended entitlement from 1 January. Parents are encouraged to apply in the term before their child turns three in order to access a place in the term following their child's third birthday.
Parents must renew their code approximately every three months. Failure to renew a code in time may result in a parent becoming ineligible to access the extended entitlement.
Visit the Childcare Choices website for more information. This includes a childcare calculator to find out which childcare funding schemes would best suit your circumstances.
The 30 hours free childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables (such as nappies or sun cream), additional hours or additional activities (such as trips). Providers may charge a fee for these additions. If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and must be offered alternative options.