YESTERDAY launched the applications for working parents to receive 30 hours of free childcare a week for their three and four year olds.

The new scheme applies to parents earning over £120 a week, which is the equivalent to working 16 hours at national minimum or living wage.

Up until now, working parents have been granted with 15 free hours of childcare a week, but the new scheme means that parents with three or four year olds can now apply for 1,140 hours of free childcare per year, that they can use flexibly as and when they need to.

As long as the child in question is three years old on 31st August, and neither parent is expected to earn £100,000, the funding could be allowed.

The extra 15 free hours a week will be available at participating nurseries and nursery classes, playgroups and pre-school, childminders, and Sure Start Children’s Centres, which are the most common forms of childcare.

With children living in working households at its all-time record high of 58.3 per cent between October and December last year, the thought of more free childcare for working parents has come just at the right time.

Giving working families free childcare may also help this figure grow for this year’s statistic on how many children in the UK live in a working household.

Free childcare for 30 hours a week was first put forward earlier this year in February, by Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah, who announced a £13m budget to enable the plans to go ahead.

The 30 hours of free childcare are worth £5,000 per child, which backs up the recent figures of how much childcare has increased over the last couple of years.

These statistics are especially high for children under two years old, who are not usually covered under the new scheme, but parents of two-year-olds are entitled to funded places depending on the benefits that they receive.

As well as the applications for 30 hours’ free childcare opening, the government has also launched tax-free childcare for working parents.

This will allow parents with children who will be under four years old on 31st August to receive a £2 top-up for each £8 they deposit in their Tax-Free Childcare account.

Tax-free childcare will also be available to parents with disabled children under the age of 17. For more information about this scheme, please click here.

On Childcare Choices’ website, there is plenty more information about what is available, and who can apply, and there is also a calculator to see how much you could be entitled to on

Click to apply for the free 30 hours’ childcare a week.

By Mica Robinson

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