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Funded Hours Explained

15 Hours funding

Every child is entitled to 15 hours a week of childcare funded by the Government, starting from the term after they are 3 up until the term they start Reception or become compulsory school age (the term after they are 5).

There are no earning or work restrictions and these hours are automatically allocated once your child is registered with Nursery. 

15 hours is the equivalent to 5 half days or 2.5 full days. 

30 Hours Funding

Some families of children aged 3-4 may be eligible for an additional 15 hours funded hours. 


Your eligibility depends on:

  • if you are working
  • your income (and your partner’s income, if you have one)
  • your immigration status
If you are working

You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • in work
  • on sick leave or annual leave
  • on shared parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave

If you’re on adoption leave for a child aged 3 to 4 years old, you must return to work within 31 days of the date you first apply for 30 hours free childcare for that child.

You, (and any partner,if you have one) must each expect to earn (on average) at least £139 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage). 

If you are in a couple and one of you meets the earning requirements through qualifying paid work but one of you is unable to work because you have a disability or you are a carer, then you will be exempt from the earnings requirement. If this is the case, one of you must be working and the other would need to evidence that they are unable to work by showing that they are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or 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
  • you’re self-employed and do not expect to earn enough in the next 3 months

If you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago, you can earn less and still be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

You will not have access to the 30 hours funded childcare scheme if either you, or your partner, each individually, expect to earn £100,000 or more.

Your immigration status

To be eligible for 30 hours funded childcare, you must have a National Insurance number and at least one of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • settled or pre-settled status, or you have applied and you’re waiting for a decision
  • permission to access public funds - your UK residence card will tell you if you cannot do this

If you have a partner, they must have a National Insurance number too.

Applying for 30 hours Funded Childcare

All funded childcare starts the term after your child’s 3rd birthday. In order for the additional funded hours to be in place for when your child starts nursery the recommended time to apply for the funding is as follows: 

Birthday Term Funding Starts Recommended time to apply for 30hours funding
1st September - 31st December 1st January  15th October - 30th November
1st January - 31st March 1st April 15th January - 28th February
1st April - 31st August 1st September 15th June - 31st July