30 hours funded childcare for working families

Universal entitlement

All three and four-year-olds can receive up to 15 hours funded early education per week over 38 weeks of the year (570 hours per year) known as the universal entitlement. 

This entitlement can also be 'stretched' at some childcare providers, which means that fewer hours can be taken over more weeks of the year, commonly offered as 11 hours per week each week of the year.

Extended entitlement

Three and four-year-olds of working parents may also be entitled additional 570 hours per year on top of the universal entitlement, meaning these families will be able to claim up to 1,140 hours of funded early education per year. You may have heard this being talked about as "30 hours".

15 hours universal hours for all (no application required) + 15 hours extended entitlement for working families (application required) = 30 hours funded childcare

Eligible families can receive up to 30 hours funded per week for their child over 38 weeks of the year (term-time) or approximately 22 hours per week, each week of the year. The offer is not 30 hours funded each week of the year.

Parents must apply through HMRC for the extended entitlement. You can do this by clicking the Apply Now button below.

Please note: All application queries must be directed to HMRC. Please call 0300 123 4097 to speak to HMRC’s Childcare Service helpline.

Parent/carers can apply 16 weeks before their child turns three. If the parent is returning to work, they can apply 31 days before they start their job.

There are application deadlines in place for the extended entitlement.

We strongly advise parents to apply well in advance of deadlines shown below as some applications can take 14 days to be resolved. If a code is not issued by the start of a funding period, the child will have to wait until the following funding period before they can take up the extended entitlement, as set out below:

Deadlines for 30 hours funded childcare for working families

If a child turns 3 between

A code must be issued by HMRC before midnight on

If the parent wants the child to start 30 hours funded childcare from

1 April and 31 August

31 August

1 September

1 September and 31 December

31 December

1 January

1 January and 31 March

31 March

1 April

If the child is already three and accessing their universal entitlement, the same principle applies that 30 hours funded childcare cannot begin until the funding period following successful application:

Funding periods for 30 hours funded childcare for working families

Application made and code issued between

Earliest start date for 30 hours

1 April and 31 August

1 September

1 September and 31 December

1 January

1 January and 31 March

1 April

Every three months, parents will be asked to confirm that they are still eligible. You can confirm your eligibility again by logging into your childcare service account on the gov.uk website.

If the parent is no longer eligible for 30 hours funded childcare or they have missed the deadline for reconfirming their eligibility, the government has provided a 'grace period' - a period of time when the child can continue to receive 30 hours funded childcare. Once the grace period ends, if the parent remains ineligible, the extended entitlement will finish and the child will receive their universal entitlement only.

More information about grace periods can be found in the downloadable file at the bottom of this page.

If a parent applied very early, they may need to confirm that they are still eligible before the child has started their 30 hour place; if a parent receives an ineligible response when they reconfirm, or if they do not reconfirm in time before the child has begun accessing their 30 hours funded childcare, the grace period does not apply.

Please note: if you do fall out of eligibility or were not issued a valid code before the deadline, you can still receive the universal entitlement for your child.

Validity start dates

The validity start date shown on the code issued by HMRC is the date the code was issued, not the date the child can start accessing 30 hours funded childcare. This means that a number of families who have applied early will have a code for their two-year-old or three-year-old which does not yet meet the age criteria. Validity start dates can be confusing for parents, as they are not issued with an explanation about when the child could actually start.

You should take your code to your chosen childcare provider as soon as possible to book your 30 hour place. Your childcare provider will then start the process with the council to validate your code.

Qualifying criteria

In the same way as the universal entitlement, the child must be the right age to receive 30 hours funded childcare, even if the code shows an earlier validity start date:

Birthday eligibility for 30 hours funded childcare for working families

A children who turns 3 on or between

Will be eligible for their funded entitlement from

1 September and 31 December

1 January

1 January and 31 March

1 April

1 April and 31 August

1 September

To be eligible for the extended entitlement, both parents (or for single parent families, the sole parent) must:

  • Each expect to earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage for your age.

Where a parent is in a 'start-up period' (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.

Both parents, or for single parent families, the sole parent must also:

  • Live in England
  • Expect to have an income of less than £100,000 each a year.

If one or both parents are unemployed, they must become employed within 31 days of applying.

There are some exceptions, and families will also be eligible if both parents are employed but one parent (or both parents) are:

  • temporarily away from the workplace on maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave;
  • temporarily away from the workplace on statutory sick pay;
  • are temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if the parent/s are in the military (on duty);

Or if:

One parent is employed or self-employed and one parent gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capacity for work
  • If the parent has been assessed as having limited capacity for work for Universal Credit purposes.

Parent/s are not eligible if:

  • They are in receipt of a childcare grant
  • They are a full time student/an intern
  • They are not entitled to receive public funds.
30 hours leaflet2.6MBpdf
Size: 2.6MBFile format: pdf
FEEE- A Guide for Parents198KBpdf
Size: 198KBFile format: pdf

30 hours for children in Foster Care

Foster carers and their social workers should submit an application as shown in the guide below called Extending 30 hours to children in foster care and not the HMRC application process.

Extending 30 hours to Children in Foster Care361KBpdf
Size: 361KBFile format: pdf

Other financial help to support with childcare costs

We would recommend parents complete the government's Childcare Calculator tool to find out what financial help could be available to them to support with approved childcare costs. Tax Free Childcare, for example, could impact on a parent/s Tax credit award, therefore it’s important to understand which available schemes could financially benefit your family the most.

For more details about all government schemes, visit the Childcare Choices website.