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The introduction of 30 hours free childcare has caused considerable confusion for our parents. We hope here to set out how the funding system works in a way that is easier to understand.
We encourage you to visit to see what help you can get with your childcare costs.
15 Hours Childcare (Universal Hours)
Every child over three years old is entitled to 15 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year. This funding can only be claimed from the term after your child's third birthday. For example, if your child was born on 12th November, you can claim 15 hours childcare funding from the January term.
The 15 hours funding is known as 'Universal Hours' and is available irrespective of your personal circumstances.
You can use your child's 15 hours between multiple providers. That means you can use some free time with us and some free time with another provider (for example, another pre-school group or a childminder). You cannot claim more than 15 hours in total, so if you try and claim 9 hours with us and 9 hours elsewhere your claims will be rejected. If you attempt to do this, our claims made on your behalf will be rejected and we will charge you the full, unfunded rate for each session your child attends.
If you do not claim all 15 hours, the remaining time is forfeited. That means if you claim 12 hours with us and your child does not attend another setting, you lose the remaining 3 hours. You cannot use the remaining hours to pay the additional fee for the sessions your child is attending.
We are paid by the government for a three-hour session (either 09:15 - 12:15 or 12:45 - 15:45). Some providers are paid in 2 or 2.5 hour sessions. If you mix funding between providers, you may find that it is mathematically impossible to reach the full 15 hours. If you find you are 1 or 2 hours short each week because of this, you cannot claim that time back; it is lost permanently.
2-Year Old Funding
If you qualify for the 'I am 2' scheme, you will be able to claim for up to 15 hours of free time for your child. The scheme works in the same way as the 15 Hours Universal scheme and your child will automatically move to Universal Hours during the term after their third birthday. You cannot claim for 30 Hours if you are on the 'I am 2" scheme.
30 Hours Childcare (Extended Entitlement)
We are participating in the 30 hours scheme. This means that you can claim for more sessions with us than you would have been able to under the existing 15 hours scheme. This scheme provides 30 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year.
If your child does not attend more than 15 hours funded time with us or another provider, you do not need to apply for the 30 Hours Extended Entitlement scheme. If you are claiming 15 hours under the Universal Hours scheme you cannot apply for the 30 hours scheme to pay the additional fees for the 15 hours-worth of sessions your child attends with us.
The 30 hours scheme is not universal. You must apply via HMRC to check whether or not you are eligible. You can check this at:
Once you have a code from HMRC, you must pass it to us so that we can independently verify your eligibility. We do not see any information that HMRC holds about you; all we see is a 'yes' or 'no' button once we have inputted your code. You will need to reconfirm your eligibility with HMRC every three months. If you become ineligible or fail to reconfirm with HMRC, you will default to the 15 hours scheme from the following term and any sessions previously charged under the 30 hours scheme will be charged at our unfunded rate. You will always qualify for the 15 hours scheme.
The 30 hour scheme works in the same way as the 15 hour one. We are paid by the government per three-hour session. This means that you cannot use the additional time to pay the additional fee for the sessions your child is attending.
If you do not use the full allocation of 30 hours, any remaining time is lost and cannot be reclaimed any other way.
You can mix the 30 hours between multiple providers but you must not exceed 30 hours in total between providers. If you attempt to do this, our claims made on your behalf will be rejected and we will charge you the full, unfunded rate for each session your child attends.
Additional fees charged by us
Our sessions last for more than three hours, so we charge you an additional fee so that your child can stay with us for the whole session. We lose money for every funded session. Government funding does not cover the full cost of our sessions and you cannot use unclaimed hours to pay the additional fee.
We make this charge because the amount we are paid by the government is not enough to cover our running costs. The fee that we are paid has been frozen since 2017, so we have to charge an additional fee in order to stay open. More information on why the additional fee is charged can be found here.
If you choose not to pay the additional fee you will need to remove your child from the group early for morning sessions, or arrive later for the afternoon sessions.
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