15 hours of free childcare or early education is available to families that meet certain eligibility criteria.

The free entitlement can be taken at any Ofsted registered provider such a local nursery, pre-school, playgroup or childminder that is eligible to receive funding and is signed up to Oldham Council’s directory of approved providers.

It entitles you to receive the 15 hours over 38 weeks (A total of 570 hours per year), or you can ‘stretch’ the hours over more weeks, using fewer hours per week. This can be discussed with your chosen childcare provider.


If you, as a parent, are currently claiming one of the following, then your two year-old is entitled to the 15 free hours:

Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit and have an annual income under £16,190
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • The Working Tax Credit four-week run on
  • Universal Credit with an earnings threshold of £15,400 or below.

There are also a number of criteria that apply to your child rather than to you as a parent. If any of the following apply, your child will be entitled to the two year-old free entitlement:

  • they are looked after by their local authority
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they have a current statement of Special Education Needs (SEND) or an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • they have left care under a Special Guardianship Order, Child Arrangements Order or Adoption Order

When to apply

You can apply once your child is 20 months old and your child becomes eligible for a free 15 hour place in the term after their second birthday.

Child’s birthday

When you can claim

1 January to 31 March

the beginning of term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

the beginning of term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

the beginning of term on or after 1 January