30 hours free childcare entitlement

Latest news - The DfE consultation on the 30 hours entitlement is now open.  Submit your views before 6 June 2016.

The intention is to give additional free childcare in order to help families reduce the cost of childcare and also support parents into work or work more hours, should they wish to do so.

This support will be in addition to the existing 15 hours of free early education, which is available to all 3 and 4 year old children and eligible 2 year old children. It will double the free entitlement to 30 hours for eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year old children.

woman with child

The Childcare Bill proposes the necessary laws, required for the new entitlement, and it is currently being considered by parliament. It is expected it will receive Royal Assent (become law) during this winter.

When will the new entitlement become available?

The intention is that the new entitlement will be available to all families from September 2017, with early implementation, in some areas, from September 2016. This will inform the national roll out, from September 2017.

Oxfordshire County Council is not expecting to be an early implementing local authority.


To be eligible to the new entitlement to 30 hours free childcare both parents, or the sole parent in a one parent  family, will need to working, earning on average the weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or national living wage.

This does not necessarily mean the need to work 16 hours per week but their earning must reflect that they are earning at least 16 hours. This means eligible weekly earnings are at least £107 per week.

Where at least one parent in a household earns £100, 000 or more then that family will not be eligible to take up the extra free hours.

Families will be eligible where only one parent is working and the other is in receipt of benefits relating to caring responsibilities or disability.

The will be grace periods covering temporary absences from the workplace, which will help families maintain childcare arrangements, avoiding disruption for children and providing  parents with the opportunity to regain employment.

This will also give providers certainty knowing that if they offer a place under the new entitlement they will not need to fill that place immediately if a parent’s circumstances change.

Eligibility will be confirmed through an application system being developed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This will also allow parents to apply for the new Tax Free Childcare at the same time.

Where a four year old child is attending a school reception class, they will not access the 30 hours free childcare in addition.


The eligibility criteria means that nationally around 390,000 3 and 4 year old children will be eligible for 30 hours of free childcare. Our initial estimate is that around 4,000 children will be eligible in Oxfordshire.

The government consulted with parents and the indications are there will be a high take up of the increased entitlement. It is known that the majority of working parents, with 3 and 4 year old children, already use more than 15 hours of childcare. This means that new places will not be required for these children. We will be collecting some initial information with the Early Census data collection in January to help build up a picture of the existing capacity available to deliver the future extended entitlement.


In response to providers concerns around funding levels and sustainability of provision the government has announced that funding rates will increase from 2017.

The government has announced that national average hourly rates for funded 3 and 4 year old children will increase to £4.88, including Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) and to £5.39 for eligible 2 year old children. Subsequent information received suggests that the EYPP element will reduce the average rate for 3 and 4 year old children by 5p, not the 53p per hour currently paid for children eligible for EYPP.

The government also intends introducing a national funding formula in 2017, with the aim that funding is fairly distributed and that Local Authorities are able to afford to pay providers a sustainable rate. The government will be consulting on these issues early in the New Year.

Whilst it is clear there will be an increase in funding we await further information on the difference this will make providers in Oxfordshire

Support from the Local Authority

We will be seeking to work with Oxfordshire’s providers to establish what spare capacity exists to deliver the extended free entitlement and where additional capacity is needed.

We will support providers with delivering the entitlement flexibly, so that it can best meet parent’s needs and effectively support them working.

We are hoping to have funding available to support providers  to implement changes required to deliver the extended entitlement. The government has announced nationally there will be a capital allocation of £50 million to support the creation of early year’s places.

We will also support providers to deliver high quality provision, including helping providers who extend their hours, with advice on delivering provision that supports children’s learning, play and fun, whilst meeting their relaxation and rest needs.

Next steps

The Childcare Bill: Policy Document was updated in December 2015 and provides further information. Once the Childcare Bill has become law then further details will become available and we will provide further updates. Currently these are expected in spring/summer 2016.


Visit our early education and childcare provider homepage for a lots of useful information on training, best practice, funding, resources, and much more.