Who is eligible for free childcare and how do you apply for it? | The Sun

WORKING parents in England can get help from the government paying for childcare – but who is eligible, and how do you apply?

Thirty hours free childcare was introduced in July 2019 after being extended from 15 hours.

You can currently get help paying for childcare for three and four-year-olds through the scheme.

But the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to extend the help to parents of one and two-year-olds in his Spring Budget today.

Who is eligible, and how do you apply? Here's everything you need to know.

Who is eligible for the 30 hours free childcare scheme?

The scheme is currently only available to working parents in England with three and four-year-old children.

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Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own schemes.

You can get 30 hours of free childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year (during school term time).

But you have to be getting childcare from an approved provider and the help stops when your child starts in reception at school.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, tax credits, childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare you can still apply for 30 hours free childcare.

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To be eligible for the scheme, you have to earn a certain amount each week – equal to 16 hours a week on average at the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage.

Parents aged 23 or over will have to expect to earn at least £1,976 over the next three months.

For those aged 21 and 22 they will have to expect to earn at least £1,909.

If you are 18 to 20 you will have to expect to earn £1,420 and if you are under 18 or an apprentice this figure is £1,000.

If you or your partner have an expected "adjusted net income" over £100,000 in the current tax year, you will not be eligible.

An adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any Personal Allowances and certain tax reliefs, including trading losses, donations made to charities and pension contributions.

For more information you can visit the Government's website.

You can also get 30 hours free childcare if you and your partner (if you have one) are on sick leave or annual leave or on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

You may still be eligible if your partner is working and you are not and receiving any one of the following benefits:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Limited Capability for Work Benefit
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

You can use an average of how much you expect to earn over the current tax year if you work throughout the year but do not get paid regularly, and if you're self-employed and do not expect to earn enough in the next three months.

You won't be eligible for 30 hours free childcare if your child does not usually live with you.

If you foster a child, you will be eligible but you have to apply through your social worker or local authority.

You need a National Insurance number to be eligible for the scheme, as does your partner, if you have one.

Plus, you will need to be a British or Irish citizen, have settled or pre-settled status, or have applied and are waiting for a decision, and have permission to access public funds.

Your UK residence card will tell you if you don't have access to public funds.

How can I apply if I live in England?

You can apply for 30 hours free childcare from when your child is two years and 36 weeks old.

But depending on when that is, you will start receiving the free childcare help from different dates.

For example, if your child is turning three between September 1 and December 31, you can start getting free childcare on or after January 1.

In this instance, the Government's website says the best time to apply would be between October 15 and November 30.

Once you have applied for a childcare account you get a code which you have to give to your provider.

You can apply outside of the recommended Government times, but you might not get a code in time to get help as early as possible.

You should check with your childcare provider to find out the exact date your 30 hours of free childcare will start.

Crucially, you have to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

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To actually apply, you have to go on to the gov.uk website.

Just type in "30 hours free childcare" into Google and it should be the first link that appears.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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