30 hours – what’s the score??

So, your child has just turned 3 and you’re wondering about the 30 hours you’ve heard about, so what’s the score?
Andrew Howarth, Director talks childcare funding

So, your child has just turned 3 and you’re wondering about the 30 hours you’ve heard about, so what’s the score?


So the Government’s flagship scheme is an extension of the long-standing 15 hours scheme that has been offered for many years. All 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for the 15 hours per week for 38 weeks a year and all Nurseries offer this to parents. With the introduction of the extended 15 hours from 2017, the Government introduced a means based scheme with the aim of offering more care for more families and this could equate to up to 1140 hours of care for your child just waiting to be accessed.

If you tick the 2 criteria below, you’re good to go:

  • For all parents that are employed in work – or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave
  • each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week – this is £125.28 if you’re over 25

However, should either you or your partner earn over £100,000 per annum, you are not eligible for the extended hours.


The Government was very keen to label the scheme as ‘FREE’ and this indeed has caused massive uproar in the Childcare sector as it is grossly underfunded. However, for the Nurseries that offer the extended hours (it’s optional), the care that they offer to children and families is entirely ‘FREE’, but other elements of the offer are not so, for example, where funding is applied the sessional food costs are extra and potentially some other expenses such as trips or external activities.

How do I apply?

Applying for 30 hours funded childcare is quick and easy, here’s how:

  • First, you’ll need your details (and your partner’s, if you have one), including your national insurance number and unique taxpayer reference, if you’re self-employed. Then, click here to be directed to the government’s online childcare service.
  • You must make the application the term before you wish to start receiving the funding and you can apply up to 16 weeks before your child turns 3. 
  • At this point you’ll be asked to sign into your Gateway account. If you don’t already have one you can register for one quite quickly and this is the service you may use for your personal tax return or VAT submissions already.
  • If your application is successful you’ll be given a nominated childcare account,  but more importantly an11-digit code which you will need to bring to us along with your national insurance number and child’s date of birth.
  • We will then file this number with the Local Authority and they will confirm the validity.
  • We can discuss then with you how you would like to access the funding as sometimes we are able to spread the funding over 52 weeks.
  • You will be reminded via text message or email every three months to reconfirm your eligibility and it’s important that you update us with this code.

Paintpots Nurseries are pleased to offer 30 hours funded childcare for all eligible families. Book a show-a-round one of our nurseries.


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