Free childcare hours from 2024

The latest Budget announcement – free childcare hours from 2024

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced new measures to help working parents in the UK with the increasing costs of childcare. These changes are being phased in between April 2024 and September 2025, and will be of particular benefit to those planning to expand their family in the next few years. Crucially, the proposed changes will introduce more free hours of childcare for families that might otherwise not qualify, aiming to grow the economy and help parents of younger children to remain in the workforce.

Eligible parents of children in England aged nine months to school age will get between 15 and 30 hours a week of funded childcare. The number of hours that you receive will be based on your household income, and the funded hours will be phased in starting from April 2024.

Currently, in England, all parents of 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of funded childcare per child per week. Eligible parents can claim up to 30 hours.

By September 2024, eligible parents will be able to claim up to 30 hours of funded childcare from the age of 9 months old. The government has confirmed that the 30 hours offer will now start from the moment maternity or paternity leave ends, and there are no plans to bring in funded places for children under nine months old.

Who will be eligible?

In order to qualify, each parent must be earning the equivalent of working 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage (£166.72 per week) over the three-month period from when they apply. Apprentices are also eligible as long as they earn the equivalent to 16 hours at the apprentice minimum wage. Each parent must have a taxable income of no more than £100,000.

Parents in receipt of legacy benefits such as tax credits won’t benefit from these changes. If you pay for approved childcare and receive working tax credits you can currently claim up to £122.50 a week for one child, and £210 a week for two or more children.

Using your funded hours with East Street Children’s Centre

East Street Children’s Centre welcomes families for all levels of funded childcare. As we run three and five-hour sessions, you can access your 15 hours without the need to pay for additional top-up care – unless you need more hours!

Timeline for changes

What 3-4-year-olds get What 2-year-olds get What children aged 9-23 months get
How it works now All get 15 hours
30 hours if eligible
Usually none None
From April 2024 All get 15 hours
30 hours if eligible
15 hours if eligible None
From September 2024 All get 15 hours
30 hours if eligible
15 hours if eligible 15 hours if eligible
From September 2025 All get 15 hours
30 hours if eligible
30 hours if eligible 30 hours if eligible

Things to consider when applying for a funded childcare place

  • Not all childcare providers offer funded places. This may be because the level of funding that they receive from the government is not enough to cover the cost of delivering places, or because they do not have enough staff to deliver the extended offer.
  • You do not have to use your full allocation of funded hours. If you are eligible for 30 hours and only use 20, this is fine. You will need to pay for any hours that exceed your funded allocation.
  • You can split your hours between different accredited providers, although no more than two per day.
  • Government funding only covers 38 weeks of the year. The actual funded entitlement for the 15-hour offer is for 570 hours per year, and for the 30-hour offer is 1,140 hours per year. 
  • Childcare providers can charge non-compulsory additional charges for things such as lunches or field trips.

Looking for quality child care?

East Street Early years Banbury offers stimulating, educational and engaging childcare all year round. We offer nursery places in our two designated rooms 0-3 years and 3 years + up to school age, and for our summer holiday playscheme for children aged 5-11 years.

Get in touch