Working families may be eligible for up to an additional 15 hours of free childcare and early education a week for their 3 or 4 year old, most commonly known as 30 hours free childcare. This entitlement is a total of 1140 hours of free childcare a year (inclusive of the universal entitlement for 3 and 4-year-olds).

Eligibility Criteria

You and your partner (if you have one) must each expect to earn at least £152 per week (equal to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage) and earn less than £100,000 per year.

If you or your partner are on maternity leave, paternity or adoption leave, or you are unable to work because you are disabled of have caring responsibilities you may still be eligible.

To find out if you are eligible for the 30 hours entitlement, you will need to set up a childcare service account and complete an online application form.

Step by step guide on how to use 30 hours free childcare

If eligible, you will receive an 11 digit eligibility code. This code will also have two sets of dates:

  • Validity dates - these identify the date you received the code and the date you need to reconfirm your eligibility by.
  • Grace period dates - this is the period that you can continue to receive your 30 hours if, when you reconfirm, you are no longer eligible. Please see further details below.

You should receive notifications from the childcare service by email and text message when your reconfirmation is due.

Please be advised that the online application form is managed by the childcare service and not the local authority, any queries relating to the application form or eligibility queries must be directed to the HMRC helpline 0300 123 4097

If eligible, your child can start their 30-hour Free childcare place the term after their 3rd birthday and the term after you receive the eligibility code.

Important Information

You must apply for the 30 hours Free Early Education and Childcare at least one term before (see dates below) you wish to take up the entitlement. You are also required to reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months. Failure to do so may result in you not being able to take up your entitlement. You are encouraged to apply at the earliest opportunity.

Term dates, set by the Department of Education are below:

  • Autumn term: 01 September - 31 December
  • Spring term: 01 January -31 March
  • Summer term 01 April - 31 August

For example; if you want to take up a 30 hours place in the autumn term (September), you must apply for an eligibility code by 31 August at the latest.

How to access a 30-hour free place

Once you have your eligibility code, you will need to take this to your chosen childcare provider to access a Free Early Education and Childcare Entitlement place. The provider will ask you to complete a parent declaration form.

The entitlement can be used at any Ofsted registered childcare provider, that has agreed with the local authority to deliver the free entitlements.

A list of childcare providers in Sutton that offer free childcare places can be found on the Family Service Directory. Many providers will have a waiting list, so you are advised to contact your chosen provider at the earliest opportunity.

Grace period

If your circumstances change whilst you are claiming the 30 hours, resulting in you no longer being eligible, the grace period applies. This means that you can continue to receive the 30 hours until the grace period ends. Once the grace period has ended you will only be entitled to the universal 15 hours free entitlement. If you choose to purchase additional hours or service above and beyond the universal entitlement you will be liable for any cost incurred.

Please note: children cannot start a 30-hour free childcare place whilst in the grace period.

Further Information

The Free Early Education and Childcare Entitlement funding is paid directly to the childcare provider. In order for them to claim the funding, they will ask to see your eligibility code and ask you to complete a parent declaration form.

The Free Early Education and Childcare Entitlement, funded by the government, it is intended to cover the cost of childcare and education, it is not intended to cover the costs of meals, consumables or additional hours and services. Some providers may charge for these additional services. If you choose to pay for these additional extras, this is an arrangement between you and the provider. Nevertheless, a provider cannot make these extras a condition of you accessing your free entitlement. Please ensure you check what is available at your chosen provider before  starting a free childcare place

Contact Us

If you require further information or support to access your free entitlement please contact the Family Information Service on 020 8770 6000 or visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk