Free childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds

30 hours a week for those eligible

Some 3 and 4 year-olds may be entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare, making a total of 30 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year, which is 1,140 hours per year.

You can spread these hours to cover more weeks in the year, if you wish.


To be eligible, you – and your partner, if you have one – must each expect to earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours at the National Living Wage rate for your age, each week, unless you became self-employed within the past year. Check the current rates at GOV.UK: National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.

If you and your partner are unemployed, you and your partner must become employed within 14 days of applying.

You and your partner must also both:

  • live in England
  • expect to have income of less than £100,000 per person, per year

The child for whom you are claiming should usually live with you.

You are not eligible if you are:

  • in receipt of a childcare grant
  • a full-time student
  • an intern
  • not entitled to receive public funds
  • claiming for children you foster – you can apply for your own children's childcare, however

Your eligibility may be different for each of your children if you apply for 30 hours free childcare for more than one child.

Other circumstances where you may be eligible

You can use 30 hours of free childcare if you're already getting Universal Credit or tax credits. You can still apply for 30 hours of free childcare if you or your partner are:

  • taking paid time off work, such as maternity leave, paternity leave or sick leave
  • temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if you're on duty with the armed forces

You can also still apply for 30 hours of free childcare if you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of:

  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purposes

Get more information about free childcare

Go to GOV.UK: 30 hours free childcare for full details.