What you need to know about the new 30 hours free child care scheme (From Bournemouth Echo)

The government’s new 30 hours free child care scheme is now live – and it promises to save working parents thousands of pounds a year.

Working parents of three and four-year-olds, who earn at least £120 per week, can now apply for 30 hours free childcare – this is an extra 15 hours a week in free care.

It’s estimated that working parents could save around £5,000 a year on the cost of childcare, helping them get back to work or increase their hours if they want to.

Dorset was one of a few council areas to offer 30 hours free childcare early, ahead of the national roll-out this month, with parents able to take up the offer from April. 

The funding can only be used with childcare providers registered to access early education funding.

Parents will be able to claim up to 1140 hours of free childcare a year, instead of the previous 570 hours cap.

This is across any Ofsted registered nursery, playgroup, childminder or Sure Start Children’s Centre, providing they are participating in the scheme.

To qualify, parents must both be working and each earning at least £120 a week (on average) and not more than £100,000 each a year – although this between you is fine.

To apply, you have to register through the new Childcare Choices website – the deadline has now passed for the upcoming school term, however you can still apply for the next term.

Mums and dads can also use the handy calculator provided on the website to find out if you can claim ‘Tax Free Childcare’ on top, but note that you won’t be able to claim Universal Credit or tax credits on the latter.

Before you start

Check what help you could get with childcare costs, and which support might be best for you, using the childcare calculator.

Make sure you have (for you and your partner, if you have one):

  • your National Insurance number
  • if you’re self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference
  • the date you started, or are due to start work
  • details of any other government support you get

For more information visit www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/childcare/30-hours-free

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