Early Years Education Funding

Yes, there is such a thing as free childcare and it's not just a loving and benevolent grandparent!  If your child is aged 3 to 4 years old and hasn't yet started school, then they're entitled to a certain amount of Government funded childcare. Some 2 year olds are also eligible.

Where does it start?

Every child is entitled to the Early Years Education Funding from the start of the first school term after their third birthday. Terms are defined as the start of the official autumn, spring or summer terms so children whose birthdays are in the first half of a term can't start until the next full term begins.

The funding durations vary throughout the UK and full details for your area can be found on the gov.uk website>> but mostly follow the term times and are not available during school holidays:

How is 15 hours 
free childcare calculated?

15 hours of free childcare is calculated based on term time. This usually equates to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year.

From September 2017, you may be able to get 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare. However, this depends on whether you meet the following criteria found here.

To find out what free early childcare is available in your area of England check your postcode on the gov.uk website>>


In England and Scotland some two-year-olds can get free early education and childcare.

Parents must be receiving one of:

  • Income support.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.
  • Tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax (£16,105 in Scotland).
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
  • Universal Credit.

The Childcare Bill

On 16 March 2016 The Childcare Bill became an Act of Parliament. It will double free childcare available for all working parents of three and four year olds to 30 hours a week. This will be available for the 600,000 families in England  who are already taking advantage of the 15 hours free childcare, and is worth around £5,000 a year.

Early years funding - what type of childcare?

The childcare you can claim for must be registered and the Government has authorised a number of places throughout the country. It's probably wise to check with your childcare provider before booking if you will be taking advantage of the funding after your child's third birthday.

A range of different types of childcare settings have places including nursery schools and classes, Sure Start Children's Centres, privately owned day nurseries, play groups, pre-schools and childminders.

Contact your local council to find out about registered childminders in your area>>

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.

Interested in saving for your family's future?

We're an award-winning children's savings and investments provider*.

We offer a selection of simple, affordable ways to invest for your child's future.

All of these products invest in stocks and shares so we want to remind you that their value can fall as well as rise, meaning your child could get back less than was paid in.

*We won the Moneyfacts award for Best Junior ISA Provider in 2015 and 2016. As Family Investments we won the same award in 2012 and 2014.