Money Wellness
A boy playing at nursery
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calendar icon03 Jan 2024

Free childcare applications open for working parents of two year olds

Working parents of two year olds can now apply for 15 hours a week of free childcare starting in April.

Currently, this is only available to parents of two year olds who get income support benefits, like universal credit, and earn less than £15,400 a year.

When’s the best time to apply?

Although applications are open now, the government has recommended parents apply between mid-January and the end of February. This is because you’ll be asked to reconfirm you’re still eligible for the free childcare every three months. By leaving it until mid-January at the earliest, you won’t need to reconfirm before taking up a place.

Don’t leave it too late though! Once you’ve filled out an application form, if you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a code that you’ll need to give to your childcare provider, along with your child’s date of birth and your national insurance number. You’ll want to make sure you leave plenty of time to receive your code.

Am I eligible?

To get the 15 hours of free childcare a week:

  • you and your partner, if you have one, must expect to earn on average at least £167 per week – this is equivalent to working 16 hours for the national minimum or living wage
  • you and your partner, if you have one, must each earn less than £100,000 adjusted net income
  • you and your partner, if you have one, must have national insurance numbers
  • you must have British or Irish citizenship; settled or pre-settled status (or be waiting for a decision); or permission to access public funds (your UK residence card will show if you have this)

Where can I use the 15 hours of free childcare?

The free hours can be used at any formal childcare provider. This means informal providers, such as grandparents, don’t count.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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