Free childcare - extended free entitlement

From September 2017 many working parents of three and four year olds in Oldham will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare per week. The extended entitlement is intended to support working parents with the cost of childcare and enable parents, where they wish, to return to work or to work additional hours.

Parents have to apply for the extended 30 hours free entitlement before 31 August if they want a place in September.  If parents fail to apply by this date they will not be able to receive the additional free entitlement before January 2018.

The entitlement amounts to 1140 hours over a year. It can be used up to 30 hours a week during term time (38 weeks) or for fewer hours per week spread over more weeks of the year.

It can be taken in the same variety of settings as the existing 15 hours free entitlement for three and four year-olds: day nurseries, nursery classes in schools, childminders, playgroups and pre-schools.

Childcare providers must be listed in Oldham Council’s Directory of Approved Providers. The hours can be split over more than one childcare provider.

Eligibility

The national eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • both parents must be working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each parent earns a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage, and less than £100,000 per year
  • working will include employed and self-employed persons
  • in general families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not be eligible for these additional hours
  • both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity leave
  • both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on adoption leave
  • both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay
  • one parent is employed and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring or one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

All 3 & 4 Year old children will continue to receive the universal 15 hours free childcare that is currently offered.

A parent can take up the extended free entitlement at the start of the term after they have received an eligibility code as follows:

Date parent receives eligibility code

Child can take up a funded place

Between 1 January to 31 March

the term starting after 1 April

Between 1 April to 31 August

the term starting after 1 September

Between 1 September to 31 December

the term starting after 1 January

How much is the equivalent of 16 hours at National Minimum Wage?

It depends on your age. The minimum amount will always reflect the lowest hourly rate that a person of your age can legally be paid. Therefore, currently for a parent aged 21-24, you'd need to earn a weekly average of at least £111.20. For a parent aged 25+, you'd need to earn a weekly average of at least £115.20.

Self-employed or on a zero hours contract

You will be eligible if you (or both of you in a couple) earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage. 

Apply

  • Parents can submit a 30 hour application via the childcare support tax service website or by contacting the childcare services Customer Interaction Centre 0300 123 4097. Parents will be provided with a unique reference number which they should take to their childcare provider as proof of eligibility.
  • Parents will be able to apply for both Tax-Free Childcare (and 30 hour free childcare through a joint application)
  • It will provide a simple journey for all parents and because the criteria are similar, it will avoid the need to provide the same information twice
  • Parents will be expected to inform HMRC of any change in circumstance that may affect their eligibility
  • If eligibility changes there is a proposed grace period – this is intended to enable children to keep their place if parents become ineligible. 

You can check what help you could get with childcare costs and get an indication as to your eligibility for 30 hours free childcare via the GOV UK website:

Childcare Choices

The Government has introduced Childcare Choices. Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers for the first time, helping parents find the right childcare support to suit them.

Childcare Choices introduces two new offers in 2017:

  • Tax-Free Childcare which will be introduced on 28 April and gradually rolled out
  • 30 hours free childcare will be available from September 2017. From the end of April, parents will begin to apply for both schemes at the same time through a new digital childcare service.

The new Childcare Choices website provides information on the new and existing Government childcare offers: