Parents and carers - 2, 3 and 4 year old Early Education funding

3 and 4 year old Extended Entitlement (30 Hours Childcare)

From September 2017, working parents of 3 and 4 year old children could receive up to, an additional 15 hours of funded early education per week.  This is called the Extended Entitlement and is in addition to the 15 hours of the Universal Entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds, who are not yet attending a school reception class.  This means that some families could receive up to 30 hours of funded education over, no less than 38 weeks (or 1140 hours per year).

What's the criteria?

Each parent (or lone parent) earns at least the minimum equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage or national living wage, this equates to earning at least:

  • £120 per week (or £6000 a year) for each parent aged 25 years and older
  • £112.80 per week (or £5800 a year) for each parent aged 21-24 years.

Some families:

  • Could be eligible where one or both parents are unable to work due to maternity leave, paternity leave, statutory sick, shared parental or adoption leave.
  • Where one parent meets the earnings criteria but the other parent is unable to work due to being disabled, having carer responsibilities or they have been assessed for having limited capacity to work.
  • Where one parent is in the 'start up period' (newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate they meet the income criteria for 12 months.

You will not be eligible if:  

  • Either parent earns more than £100,000 a year.
  • Either parent is a non-EEA (European Economic Area) national and subject to immigration control and has no recourse to public funds.

How do I apply?

You should apply online to HMRC  who check and confirm eligibility. Further information can be found at

How do I apply?

You should apply online to HMRC who check and confirm eligibility. View an overview of the process in 8 steps.

What next?

  • If you are successful in your application you will then be sent a code by HMRC to the Gateway Account that you will set up as you apply. This code must be taken to your chosen the childcare provider that is offering the extended entitlement who will validate the code.
  • Discuss and agree with your childcare provider how the funded hours can be taken up with them. This may be split across more than one provider but no more than two sites a day. The entitlement could be stretched across the year to include holiday periods, if the childcare provider was able to offer this. This would also mean a reduction in the number of hours per week for example 22 hours over 51 weeks so that the total 1140 hours (universal and extended entitlement) hours were not exceeded.
  • Importantly: every 3 months you will be prompted by HMRC via text or email to log into the Gateway Account and reconfirm your details and eligibility.
  • If your family falls out of the eligibility criteria, you will be offered a grace period of funding before the additional 15 hours stop.
  • All 3 and 4 year olds will still be able to claim a maximum of 15 hours per week of funded childcare (or (570 hours per year).

How to apply


Update on 30 hour codes during the coronavirus period 

Parents who are normally eligible for the government’s childcare offers will continue receiving the entitlements during the summer term if their income levels fall due to the impact of coronavirus.

The Government has announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to COVID-19. Subject to Parliamentary approval, parents who are critical workers will also remain eligible for these entitlements if their income has increased over the maximum threshold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It remains the case that all educational settings – including early years – are closed, except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

In response to the challenges many working parents are facing during the pandemic, these changes will mean critical workers and the parents of vulnerable children can still benefit from these entitlements even if their working hours fall as a result of self-isolating, illness, furloughing or job loss - or, in the case of many critical workers, their hours increase.

This temporary flexibility will ensure critical workers can continue to access the childcare they need to enable them to work. These arrangements will be reviewed over the summer.

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