All children qualify for the universal entitlement (15 hours) of free education. However if you fit the criteria below you could qualify for the extended entitlement (30 hours). You can start claiming up to 30 hours of free nursery education when your child turns three. The date you can claim will depend on when your child’s birthday is.
|Child’s birthday||Start date|
|1 Jan – 31 Mar||the beginning of the term on or after 1 April|
|1 Apr – 31 Aug||the beginning of the term on or after 1 September|
|1 Sep – 31 Dec||the beginning of the term on or after 1 January|
The extended entitlement is intended to support working parents with the cost of childcare and enable them, where they wish, to return to work or to work additional hours. The additional hours will be available to families where:
'Both parents are working' includes circumstances where;
Each parent has a weekly minimum income equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage; (parents do not necessarily need to actually work 16 hours a week, but rather their earnings must reflect at least 16 hours of work at national minimum wage or national living wage, which is £107 a week at the current national minimum wage rate) and;
Neither parent has an income of more than £100,000 per year.
The definition of 'working' will include employed and self-employed persons and parents on zero hours contracts who meet the criteria. Many parents have irregular working patterns and the government have designed the extended entitlement to be flexible enough to accommodate these. Parents who are studying and grandparents or other family members with parental responsibility for a child aged 3 or 4 will be eligible for the extended entitlement if they meet the above criteria.
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