Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Today, we shine the spotlight on what we believe are the top 10 childcare funding schemes, available in England, for eligible children. Many also apply across the whole UK or at least have similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of the options are widely available, meaning easy, free funding with no need for families to jump through difficult eligibility barriers. The first two childcare funding options, for example, seem to be by far the easiest to obtain for most families. Others may suit in certain circumstances, for example if you are on benefits, studying as a student, and so on. Take a look …

The Top 10 Childcare Funding Schemes – At a Glance

Tax-free Childcare Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £2,000 in free childcare funding is available per year, per UK child (£4,000 if the child has a disability). For children up to 11 (16 if disabled).

Eligibility:
Widely available as a parent, and partner if they have one, can each earn up to £100k per annum and still be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via an online Childcare account. The parent, relative or even friend deposits 80% to fund childcare and the Government tops up the remaining 20%, free.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for all 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Available for all children aged 3 or 4 living in England.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

“30 Hours” of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
30 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours total) for eligible 3 & 4-year-olds living in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Eligibility depends upon household income; generally speaking, you cannot claim if you or your partner earn £100k or over, or less than £152 per week (that figure is lower if under 23). You can usually claim through this scheme at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare (or Childcare vouchers), or free childcare via Universal Credit. Other rules and exceptions apply.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply online here.

Click here for more information.

“15 Hours” of Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

What’s Available:
15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours total) for eligible 2-year-olds in England. Can be spread out in a different way if the childcare setting is flexible.

Eligibility:
Only parents receiving certain Government benefits are usually eligible to claim. Exceptions include 2-year-olds if: looked after by local authorities; subject to an ECH plan; in receipt of Disability Living Allowance; they’ve left care under certain types of order. Some non-UK citizens are also eligible in certain circumstances.

How Funding is Accessed:
Contact your childcare provider or apply via your local council.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Vouchers (Employer-Supported Childcare)

What’s Available:
Funding for childcare is available through participating employers, for children up to 15 or 16 if disabled. You can use up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will not be subject to National Insurance or income tax. How much you are eligible for depends on earnings and the date you joined the scheme.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but still available to those enrolled before 4 October 2018 if eligible. Cannot be claimed at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

How Funding is Accessed:
Accessed via participating employers. Can be funded through a salary sacrifice approach.

Click here for more information.

Tax Credits for Childcare

What’s Available:
If eligible, those already claiming under the Tax Credits system can claim back up to 70% of eligible childcare costs, up to £122.50 each week for 1 child, or up to £210 per week for more than one.

Eligibility:
Closed to new applicants but existing claimants of Tax Credits may still apply. New claimants must claim instead under Universal Credit (see below).

How Funding is Accessed:
For those who are still eligible to claim, the funding is paid direct to their bank or building society account. Follow the link below for more details.

Click here for more information.

Childcare Funding through Universal Credit

What’s Available:
If eligible, you can claim back up to 85% of childcare costs, up to £646.35 per month for one child or £1108.04 each month if you are claiming for more than one.

Eligibility:
You and your partner, if you have one, must have a child under 17, be working and claiming Universal Credit. There are exceptions to the above and other eligibility terms also apply. Not available if you’re already claiming Tax-Free Childcare or Tax Credits. Earnings and savings/investments also affect how much you may receive.

How Funding is Accessed:
You need to claim back your childcare costs (so pay for them first). You can only go back 3 months, so must keep on top of your claims.

Click here for more information.

Student Childcare Grant

What’s Available:
Up to 85% of your childcare costs are available as a non-repayable grant (max. is £183.75 per week for 1 child or £315.03 per week for two+. Correct for academic year 2022/23). Payable in addition to standard undergraduate student finance.

Eligibility:
Students must be permanent residents in England, studying full-time in higher education and be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income. They must not in receipt of a postgraduate loan. The childcare grant is for dependent children under 15 (under 17 if they have special needs). Not available if also claiming certain other childcare funding.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply at the same time as applying for student finance via your Student Finance Account.

Click here for more information.

Learner Support Scheme

What’s Available:
What’s available depends on your specific circumstances. It’s not designed specifically to fund childcare, but can be used for it.

Eligibility:
You must be a a parent over 20, studying in further education up to and including Level 3, and facing financial hardship to be eligible.

How Funding is Accessed:
Apply via your learning provider (e.g. college).

Click here for more information.

Care to Learn Scheme

What’s Available:
Up to £160 (or £175 if living in London) is available per child, per week, for those living in England. The funding can even help to fund a taster period of up to 5 days at the childcare provider and travel to/from the provider.

Eligibility:
You must be the child’s main carer and be under 20 when you begin your course. You must be studying on a publicly-funded course (N.B. not including higher education courses at university) at specific types of education provider e.g. schools, sixth forms and some colleges. Strict rules apply around attendance of both the course and the childcare sessions.

How Funding is Accessed:
For application instructions, click here.

Click here for more information.

Funded Childcare at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our Edgbaston nursery & preschool supports all valid childcare funding options

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We support all relevant childcare funding schemes for eligible families at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool in Edgbaston (B16). We offer the very best weekday childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please get in touch using one of the options below, for example to get started with your childcare enquiry or application. We’ll be happy to show you around, answer questions and help with your funding and nursery/preschool application.

E&OE. Please note that information is given in good faith and, to our knowledge, is correct at time of writing (November 2022). This is only a quick guide, though, so families will need to do their own. more detailed research to check for eligibility etc.

Free Childcare Funding for 3 & 4 Year Olds – Everything you Need to Know

This article explains everything you will need to know about free childcare funding for 3 and 4 year olds in England. Perhaps you’ve heard reference to ’15 hours funding’ or ’30 hours funding’ and need some clarification about what they mean and whether your child is entitled to them. If so, read on …

15 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

All 3 and 4 year old children in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare funding per week. This is funded by the UK Government, the funding being paid direct to the approved childcare setting involved. The 15 hours per week are usually spread over 38 weeks of the year, totalling a maximum of 570 hours. However, they can be spread out in a different way should the need arise, subject to agreement of the nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting involved.

Eligibility

After application, funding is available from the first term following the child’s 3rd birthday. In practice, this means that the child can start from either 1 January, 1 April or 1 September depending on which part of the year their third birthday falls.

The income of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor affecting eligibility for the 15 hours of free funding for 3 and 4 year olds. Similarly, the work situation of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor.

The child is eligible until either they start primary school (usually in the September term following their 4th birthday) or until they reach the compulsory age for school if that’s later.
It’s important to note that the Government funding does not usually cover extra things like nappies, food and the cost of any trips.

How to apply

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is an approved childcare setting, so let us know if you require ’15 hours childcare funding’ per week for your three or four year old child. We can then assist you with your application. Also let us know if you’d prefer to stretch the 570 total hours over more weeks of the year and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

30 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

Some 3-4 year old children are also eligible for an extra 15 hours of free childcare funding each week. This brings the total to 30 Government funded hours per week for those children, making 1140 hours over the course of the year (based on 38 weeks). As with the 15 hours funding, this can be spread out in a different way if that’s practical. For example, it could be taken as less than 30 hours per week but stretched out over a greater number of weeks in the year if preferred.

You are usually eligible for 30 hours of childcare funding even if you are already claiming Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Childcare Vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

Eligibility:

Eligibility generally depends four key factors:

  • Whether you are working;
  • How much you are earning;
  • Your child’s circumstances;
  • Your nationality.

If you are in work, you are usually eligible if you (and your partner, if applicable) are on sick or annual leave, or on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Note that you cannot claim funding for any child that you are on parental leave for.

If you are not in work, you can usually apply if you’re due to start/re-start working within 31 days of the application. Also, if your partner is still in work while you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance, you may still apply.

With regard to your earnings (whether working as a single parent or part of a couple that both work), in order to remain eligible:

  • You, and your spouse or partner if you have one living with you¹, must expect to earn at least the weekly equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage or Minimum Wage over the coming quarter. (That’s unless you are self-employed if you became so less than a year ago).
  • Neither of you will earn an Adjusted Net Income* of more than £100,000, including any bonuses, in the current tax year.
    * ‘Adjusted Net Income’ is your total taxable income before personal allowances less adjustments for things like Gift Aid.
    ¹ If your partner does not live in your household for more than 6 months of the year, or if they are in prison, their employment and income will not affect your eligibility.

With regard to your child’s circumstances, you will not be eligible for 30 hour childcare funding if your child doesn’t usually live with you. There are also different application mechanisms for foster parents, who will need to apply through their local authority or social worker.

When it comes to nationality, parents or their partners will be potentially eligible for 30 hour funding if they are from the UK or EEA (European Economic Area). Parents from outside the EEA would require a UK residence card that states that they can access public UK funds.

How & when to apply

Parents can apply for 30 hours childcare funding once their child reaches the age of 2 years and 36 months (that’s just over 2 years and 8 months of age). When they actually start depends upon when they reach the age of 3. Below, we include some application date guidelines which, if followed, usually ensure that parents receive their approval code in time:

  • If your child reaches the age of 3 between September and December, then the recommended time to apply for 30 hours funding is between mid October and the end of November that year. If successful, they will then be able to start in the January term.
  • If they turn 3 between January and March, then the recommended time to apply is between mid January and the end of February. If successful, they will then be able to start in the April term.
  • If they turn 3 between April and August, then the recommended time to apply is between mid June and the end of July. If successful, they will then be able to start in the September term.

Note that parents need to re-confirm their eligibility each and every quarter.

You can apply here but note that there can only be one account and application per child. Duplications (e.g. from a partner, ex-partner or additional claim) will be rejected.

Looking for free childcare funding for 2 year olds?

Do you have a child under three that needs childcare services? We wrote a detailed article about free childcare funding for 2 year olds too (click to learn more).

Further information

To discuss funding options or anything to do with childcare services, contact the staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Please call 0121 246 4922 or email and we’ll be happy to help. We are a nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston, very close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick near Birmingham, B16.