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30 Hours Childcare

Working parents of children aged 3 and 4 years old could be entitled for up to 30 hours free childcare a week, if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

If you have any issues or difficulties with your online application please contact HMRC direct on 0300 1234 097.

If you require more information on childcare please visit our Childcare section of the directory or contact the Families Information Service

Claire from Leeds shares some of the benefits she's found since taking up 30 hours including how "it helps give you back your independence and not just being a mum all the time". 


Eligibility for 30 Hours Free Childcare

Working includes employed persons, self-employed persons, and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria:

  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average:
  • A weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage (click here) and
  • Less than £100,000 per year.

A child qualifies for free childcare if they are resident in England and under compulsory school age

Families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not usually be eligible.  However the free childcare will be available where:

Both parents are employed but one (or both parents) is temporarily away from the workplace on:

  • Parental leave
  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Statutory sick leave
  • 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 specific benefits.

Click here to apply to HMRC for your 30 Hour Code

Process for accessing your free childcare

Once your eligibility has been confirmed you will receive a code from HMRC which you then need to take to the childcare provider/school of your choice (as long as they are signed up to deliver 30 hours free childcare).  You can then discuss your childcare requirements.

Eligibility codes issued to parents will typically have a 3 month validity period.

Parents will be asked to reconfirm their eligibility on the website every 3 months, declaring any changes in their circumstances.

The government is also introducing a ‘Grace Period’ so that if a parent’s employment circumstances change they can retain their free childcare place for a set amount of time.  This will:

  • Provide continuity for the child
  • Give parents the opportunity to regain employment; and;
  • Give childcare providers certainty that if they offer a free childcare place, they will not risk having an empty place immediately following those changes in circumstances.

Click here to see 'A Parent's Journey for 30 Hours Free Childcare'.

How to access your Childcare Account

Frequently asked questions

30 Hours Free Childcare for Foster Carers

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