Last September the government introduced a new scheme to help families with the cost of childcare. It’s something I’ve benefited from so I wanted to make sure everyone knew about it.
Previously you could access up to 15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, starting from the term after they turn 3, which did go a fair way to help with childcare costs. Under the new scheme everyone is still entitled to 15 hours free but for working families that allowance has gone up to 30 hours per week free. You need to be in work, both partners being in work for 2 parent households, but if you qualify for this it’s a huge cost that you can save.
You need to visit the Childcare Choices website where all the details and sign up process are available. This is what they say about the 30 Hours for 3 and 4 year olds –
- For working families in England
- With 3 and 4-year-old children
- A total of 1,140 hours per year, that you can use flexibly with one or more
- Some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week
I’m self employed so have been fortunate that I can flex my work and work around my children but, from last September when my daughter was 3, having up to 30 hours to use meant I could work much more without spending anymore on childcare. It’s been a huge benefit to me have the hours free so I can work more and therefore earn more, and I also think that more hours at pre school has prepared my daughter more for starting school this September.
If you’re self employed like me you just need to earn a certain amount (over £120 per week) to qualify, and if you’re employed you just enter your employment details. You need to remember to re-check your details each term (I got an email to remind me) to keep getting the free hours. You simply go to the website to complete the sign up process and the childcare provider then gets a code to use for your hours.
The hours can be split across more than one childcare setting too. You just need to check with your childcare provider how many free hours they offer. Just a watch out from my experience is to check if lunch is included in your hours (my current pre school does but another one I used to use were charging a large amount to stay over lunchtime) and to check what sessions they are using hours for e.g. just mornings, just afternoons or full days.
Make sure you go to the website to check if you can access the 30 hours for free and get signed up! All details on their website here.
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