Childcare reform: When can you claim new 30 hours free childcare for one and two-year-olds?

15 March 2023, 14:06 | Updated: 16 March 2023, 09:53

Child colouring in at childcare setting
Childcare costs have become more affordable following Jeremy Hunt's Spring Budget 2023. Picture: Alamy

By Zoe Adams

When do Jeremy Hunt's new childcare funding rules start? And who qualifies? Here's all the important facts and questions surrounding the new reform explained.

Jeremy Hunt confirmed in his Spring Budget 2023 today that the childcare system would be getting a huge reform as the government has extended their 30 hours free childcare scheme to children from nine-months-old.

The funding, which is currently offered to children who are three and four-years-old, will now cover younger kids too to encourage parents and carers back into work sooner to help with overall economic growth.

The scheme is also available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland after pressure with childcare costs grew when it was confirmed the UK were some of the most expensive in the world.

But as many welcome these new childcare changes, a lot of questions have risen too such as how to apply, who is eligible and when the new rules start.

Read more: Energy bills support extended for an extra three months as Hunt prepares to unveil back-to-work Budget

Read more: Jeremy Hunt's 'back to work' Budget boost for old and young - as UK to avoid recession this year

Here's all the important questions explained.

Children playing with building bricks at childcare setting
Children aged one and two will now also qualify for 30 free hours a week. Picture: Alamy

Who qualifies for 30 hours free childcare?

As it stands, you are entitled to these hours if you live in England (check for specific schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by using the government's website) and your child is three or four years old. Under the new government rules, you can also claim for children from nine-months-old.

Other eligibility factors include:

Working

You can usually claim 30 hours free if:

  • Both you and your partner (if you have one) work
  • You're on sick or annual leave
  • You're on parental, paternity or adoption leave

You may still be entitled to the funding if your partner works and you claim for certain benefits like Incapacity Benefit or Carer's Allowance. Check the government's website for a full list.

Your income

There are also income brackets to qualify which is based on age. You can claim if over the next three months you and your partner (if you have one) earn at least:

  • £1,976 if you’re aged 23 or over
  • £1,909 if you’re aged 21 or 22
  • £1,420 if you’re aged 18 to 20
  • £1,000 if you’re under 18 or an apprentice

Certain types of income, including interest and dividends are not counted towards you income and there are different wage brackets if you are self-employed.

If you or partner are expected to earn over £100,000 in the current tax year, you will not be eligible.

Young child playing in nursery
Childcare has a big overhaul as part of scheme to encourage people back to work. Picture: Alamy

Caller discusses the expenses of childcare

How do you apply for 30 hours free childcare?

The application process is carried out online at gov.uk/apply-30-hours-free-childcare.

You will be asked for both you and your partner's details (if you have one) where they will check your eligibility. When successful, you will be sent a code to send to your childcare provider to entitle you to the free hours.

When does the new government's new 30 hours free childcare scheme start?

The new reform is expected to be fully in play by September 2025 as the government will introduce the scheme in stages to ensure there is enough supply.

  • April 2024: Children two years and up will be entitled to 15 hours free childcare a week.
  • September 2024: Children from nine months up will benefit from 15 free hours of childcare a week.
  • September 2025: All children from nine months up will be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Married school chaplain banned from teaching over illicit relationship with ‘very vulnerable’ student

Married school chaplain banned from teaching over illicit relationship with ‘very vulnerable’ student

'Terrible shot': Trump gunman Thomas Matthew Crooks

Would-be Trump assassin tried to join school shooting club but was rejected for being a ‘comically bad’ shot

England manager Gareth Southgate leaving the team hotel in Berlin, Germany

They're coming home: Forlorn Gareth Southgate and England squad leave Berlin hotel after Euro's heartbreak

Thomas Matthew Crooks pictured in his high school year book from 2022

Thomas Matthew Crooks: Everything we know about the Trump gunman described as a 'bullied loner’

King Charles has sent a private letter to Donald Trump after he was shot in the ear

King Charles sends private message of support to Donald Trump after former president survives assassination attempt

Gareth Southgate after England's defeat against Spain

Gareth Southgate tipped for new honour as his future remains in the balance following Euro's heartbreak

Jay Slater's mother condemns 'vile' conspiracies in statement a month on from teen's disappearance in Tenerife

Jay Slater's mum slams 'vile' conspiracies a month on from teen's disappearance - as new search team land in Tenerife

Tributes have been paid to Shannen Doherty after her death from cancer aged 53

Tributes paid to Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty as she dies aged 53 following breast cancer battle

The victims are named as Albert Alfonso, 62, and Paul Longworth, 71 (middle and right)

Pictured: Two men, 62 and 71, whose remains were found in suitcases in Bristol

Ian Cameron, 74, was discovered at his German home on Friday evening

British former head designer at Rolls-Royce, 74, found 'stabbed to death on his doorstep'

Donald Trump's fist bump image has been seen around the world in the aftermath of an attempted assassination.

Trump's behaviour in aftermath of assassination attempt has 'motivated' Republicans, former Ambassador tells LBC

Man charged with double murder after bodies discovered in two suitcases in Bristol - as victims named

Man charged with double murder after bodies discovered in two suitcases in Bristol - as victims named

'I’m supposed to be dead’: Trump breaks silence following assassination bid

'I’m supposed to be dead’: Donald Trump breaks silence following assassination bid

King Charles and Queen Camilla will not visit New Zealand during whistle-stop tour of Australia and Samoa

King Charles and Queen Camilla will not visit New Zealand during whistle-stop tour of Australia and Samoa

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

Gunman behind Donald Trump’s assassination attempt 'had explosives in his car' and used firearm 'purchased by father'

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

'We're not enemies': Biden calls for unity after Trump assassination attempt as he delivers rare speech from Oval Office