30 hours of free childcare

The doubling of free childcare to 30 hours is being rolled out by the Government across the country this year.

So what is the free childcare deal?

In a nutshell, many working parents of 3 to 4-year-olds in England will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare – rather than the current 15 hours.

But the first thing you need to know is that this is 30 hours free for only 38 weeks per year – not 52 weeks of the year. It’s basically equivalent to school term times.

In Domi Domingo we will spread these hours over the 52 weeks, but this will mean you’ll get 22 hours’ free childcare each week including school holidays.

Will my child get it?

Not necessarily as not everyone is eligible. But everyone will still receive the 15 hours free childcare that is currently available.

Eligibility rules for 30 hours free childcare:


  • Your child will be aged 3 or 4 when the scheme starts in your area
  • Both parents must be working – or the single parent is working in a lone parent family
  • Each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage
  • Each parent must have an annual income of less than £100,000


What if one parent in a couple isn’t working?

This is basically a scheme to help working parents, so families where one parent doesn’t work, or both parents don’t work, will usually not be eligible for these additional 15 hours.

However, if one parent isn’t working because they’re an official carer (eg receiving benefits relating to being a carer) or they are receiving disability benefits, and the other parent is working, then the Government has stated it “intends to make provision” to support these families.

There is also additional entitlement if the parent normally works but is temporarily away from the workplace, for example on statutory sick pay.

What if you are self-employed or on a zero hours contract?

You will be eligible if you (or both of you in a couple) earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage.


What if one parent loses their job?

There will be a short “grace period” – although this hasn’t yet been defined – allowing parents to have a chance to find new employment.

How do you apply for the 30 hours free childcare?

You’ll be able to apply for both the 30-hour scheme and the Tax-Free Childcare scheme through a joint online application being developed by HMRC. This is because the eligibility requirements for both schemes are aligned.

Charging for extras

While nurseries can’t charge for the 30 hours, they can charge for other ‘extras’ or ask for contributions. At Domi Domingo we will be charging for meals.

For those parents who believe they qualify and don’t currently use 30 hours childcare – our advice is to book those extra sessions now for September.  The availability of the hours and spaces at some nurseries in Leeds will be a challenge.