Free Childcare Hours 2024 – Updates

June 13, 2024

The Latest Budget Announcement: Free Childcare Hours from 2024

New measures have been implemented since April 2024, with full implementation expected by September 2025. This initiative is particularly beneficial for families planning to expand in the near future, as it seeks to boost the economy and enable parents of young children to remain in the workforce.

 

Key Changes in Childcare Funding

The new policy extends funded childcare hours to parents of children aged nine months to school age. Depending on your household income, you could be eligible for 15 to 30 hours of funded childcare per week. Here’s how the rollout will happen:

  • April 2024: The initial phase of additional funded hours begins.
  • September 2024: Eligible parents can start claiming up to 30 hours of funded childcare for children as young as nine months.
  • September 2025: The full 30 hours of funded childcare will be available to all eligible working parents with children from nine months old up to school age.

Currently, in England, all parents of 3- and 4-year-olds receive 15 hours of funded childcare per week, with eligible parents able to claim up to 30 hours. The new changes expand these benefits to much younger children, starting right after maternity or paternity leave ends.

 

Who Can Benefit?

To qualify for the expanded childcare hours, parents must meet these criteria:

  • Each parent must earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage (£166.72 per week) over the three months prior to applying.
  • Apprentices are also eligible if they earn the equivalent of 16 hours at the apprentice minimum wage.
  • Each parent’s taxable income must not exceed £100,000 per year.

Parents receiving legacy benefits, such as tax credits, will not benefit from these changes. However, those who pay for approved childcare and receive working tax credits can currently claim up to £122.50 per week for one child and £210 per week for two or more children.

 

How Grow Learn Play Project Supports Families

At Grow Learn Play Project, we are committed to supporting families at all levels of funded childcare. We offer flexible three and five-hour sessions, allowing you to fully use your 15 funded hours without needing additional top-up care unless more hours are required.

Important Points to Consider

When applying for a funded childcare place, keep the following in mind:

  • Not all childcare providers offer funded places. This could be due to inadequate government funding or staffing shortages.
  • You don’t have to use all your funded hours. For example, if you are eligible for 30 hours but only need 20, that’s perfectly fine. Any hours beyond your funded allocation will require payment.
  • You can split your funded hours between different accredited providers, though no more than two per day.
  • Government funding only covers 38 weeks per year. Thus, the 15-hour offer totals 570 hours per year, and the 30-hour offer totals 1,140 hours per year.
  • Childcare providers might impose non-compulsory additional charges for services like meals or outings.

 

When is this Being Introduced?

  • From September 2024: Eligible working parents with children from nine months old will receive 15 hours of childcare support.
  • From September 2025: This support will expand to 30 hours for eligible working parents with children from nine months old up to school age.

 

Applications Open Now

Parents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to secure their place and begin benefiting from these new measures as they are phased in.