30 hours funded childcare for working parents

To use your 30 hours from January 2023 you need to apply for your eligibility code by 31 December 2022. Applications must be made through the HMRC's Childcare Choices website. If you're unable to apply online or have any problems with the application process, please contact HMRC's Childcare Service Customer Interaction Centre on 0300 123 4097 for support.

Please remember you need to renew your code every 3 months to continue claiming the funding.

If you already have a valid 30 hours code issued on or before the 31 December 2022 you can claim your funding from January 2023. If you received your code after this date, you will not be able to use your funded hours until April 2023.


All three and four year olds, living in England are entitled to 570 hours of funded early education and childcare a year. This is usually offered as 15 hours a week for up to 38 weeks a year and is a universal entitlement. It can be accessed through a childcare provider who is registered with Surrey to claim the funding on your behalf.

Since September 2017 working families who meet the eligibility criteria can also claim an additional 15 hours of funded childcare a week. This means that eligible children will be able to receive up to 1140 hours of funded childcare a year. This change was introduced as part of the Childcare Act 2016.

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions about the extended entitlement.


Who will be eligible to receive the extended entitlement?

The extra funded hours will be made available to families where both parents (or the sole parent in a lone parent family):

  • are working and earn on average a weekly minimum amount equivalent to working 16 hours at either National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW)
  • have an income of less than £100,000 each per year
  • live in England (parents who are non-EEA nationals must have recourse to public funds to qualify)

You may still be eligible to apply if you or your partner:

  • are taking paid time off work, such as maternity leave, paternity leave or sick leave
  • are temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as on military duty

You can also apply if either you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • 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
  • you've been assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purposes

How can I check if I am eligible?

You can check your eligibility for the 30 hours through the Childcare Choices website or by using the Childcare calculator. These will also show if you can get any additional government help with childcare costs.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for the additional hours you should also qualify for Tax-Free Childcare, which can be used to help pay for any additional childcare costs. You can apply for this and the 30 hours at the same time through the Childcare Choices website.


Do I need to be working 16 hours a week to qualify?

The eligibility checker has been designed to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes, such as seasonal workers, those on zero hours and the self-employed. So you do not need to actually work 16 hours every week but your earnings over the next 3 months must be equivalent to the amount you would earn if you worked 16 hours a week at either the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW).

This currently equates to £120 a week (or £6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or £5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old. However, newly self-employed parents who are still in their 'start-up period' will not be required to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.


If I am eligible when can I apply?

If your child will be 3 or over by the 31 December 2022 you can apply now through the Childcare Choices website. Parents wishing to access the extended entitlement must apply before the deadline dates as below:

Start receiving funding from

You must have obtained a code by:

January

31 December

April

31 March

September

31 August

We strongly recommend that you apply for the 30 hours in advance of the application deadline date in case of delay in establishing eligibility.

If you're unable to apply online or have any problems with the application process you can contact the Childcare Service Customer Interaction Centre on 0300 123 4097 for support. If you disagree with the eligibility outcome, you will be able to use the HMRC's review and appeals process.

Once your eligibility is confirmed you will be given an 11 digit 'eligibility code'. You can find this in the 30 hours funded childcare section of your new childcare service account or in your 'secure messages'. It will usually start with 500 but some temporary codes may begin with 11. If you have a problem finding your code you may find our step by step guide to finding your 30 hours eligibility code (PDF) useful.

You will need to take your eligibility code, National Insurance number and child's date of birth to your chosen childcare provider. They will ask you to complete and sign a 30 Hours Funded Childcare Eligibility Form (PDF) to give them consent to check and confirm your eligibility through Surrey's Funded Early Education Portal.

You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months to continue claiming the extra hours. You should receive a prompt from the HMRC to remind you to do this. However, it is advisable to make a note of your renewal date yourself to make sure you don't miss the deadline and lose out on your funding. If you completed your original application over the phone you will need to contact the Customer Interaction Centre to reconfirm.

You do not need to apply through the childcare service if you only want to use the universal 15 hours of Funded early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. or want to apply for Funded early education for two year olds (FEET).


What happens if I no longer meet the eligibility criteria?

If your family no longer meets the criteria, Funded Early Education Team will inform your childcare provider and you will stop being eligible to claim the extra hours. However, there will be a grace period until the start of the next funded period to give you the opportunity to regain employment. Your childcare provider will be able to check this for you on Surrey's Funded Early Education Portal. If your circumstances change during the grace period you can reapply again and continue to receive the extra hours.

You will still be able to receive the universal 15 hours of Funded early education and childcare for 3 and 4 year olds even if you are no longer eligible for the extended entitlement.


If I am eligible when can my child start to receive the extended entitlement?

If your child is eligible the earliest they will be able to receive the funding is the funded period after they turn three. These periods are set by the Department of Education rather than following school term dates.

Child born between Can receive the funded hours from
1 September 2019 to 31 December 2019 January 2023 (spring)
1 January 2020 to 31 March 2020 April 2023 (summer)
1 April 2020 to 31 August 2020 September 2023 (autumn)
1 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 January 2024 (spring)

If you continue to meet the eligibility criteria, you child can receive the funding until they start reception class at a local authority maintained school. This will usually be the September following their fourth birthday.

However, if you choose to defer their school start date or they start at a non-maintained (independent) school they can continue to receive the funding until they reach statutory school age, which is the funded period after their fifth birthday.

Please note: If your child has a delayed start to their school place during the autumn funded period they cannot claim their funded entitlement. This is because the school will receive the funding from the beginning of the funded period, even if they are only attending part time.


When can my child use the extended entitlement hours?

Childcare providers can set the times and sessions they offer the funded hours so you will need to speak to them to see if the hours they are offering suit your needs. However, you won't be able to:

  • have any time before 6am or after 8pm
  • have a session longer than 10 hours
  • claim more than 30 hours a week
  • claim more than 1140 hours per year
  • use the funding at more than two sites in one day

From January 2023 providers will need to start to transition all children to claim funding on a term time basis (over 38 weeks per year), ready for a new computer system. Children will be moved onto the new claim in three groups depending on whether your child's birthday is in autumn, spring or summer.

Childcare providers can continue to stretch the term-time hours themselves and may choose to offer these stretched across the year if they wish to rather than just over 38 weeks. So, for example you could receive 10.96 hours per week for a maximum of 52 weeks a year. If this would suit you better speak to the childcare provider to see if they are able to offer you a more flexible option.

However, once your child starts at a childcare provider, you must be aware that:

  • If your provider is stretching funded hours across the year and your child leaves mid-way through the year they may not receive their full funded entitlement. This should be included in the terms and conditions you sign when accepting your childcare place.
  • You should discuss your funded hours with your childcare provider as the hours claimed will be dependent on their open weeks across the year.
  • At certain points of the year, it may be that your childcare provider has offered more funded hours than they have been able to claim. In this situation, they may need to invoice you for these additional hours. This would be at the provider's standard charge and they would make this clear in their terms and conditions.
  • If you would like to change between receiving your hours term time and stretched this would be at your childcare providers discretion. If they choose to allow parents and carers to change from taking term time hours to stretched hours during the year, they must make you aware that you may not receive your full years allocation of 570 hours.

Do I need to pay anything towards a funded place?

Childcare providers are not allowed to charge parents a 'top-up' fee (the difference between their usual fee and the funding they receive from the local authority to deliver funded places) as per section 12 of Surrey's Provider Agreement 2022 to 2023 (see files available to download below).

However, they can set the times that they offer the funded hours. This means, for example, three hours of funded early education could sit within a three and a half hour session. So, because you would essentially be taking time outside of the funded hours, a childcare provider could charge for this additional time, even if less than 15 hours a week is being used. They can also set their own rates for any additional time or extra services including snacks and/or lunch and should let you know in advance what you will be expected to pay.

Please note that at certain points of the year, it may be that your provider has offered more funded hours than they have been able to claim. In this situation, they may need to invoice you for these additional hours. This would be at the provider's standard charge, and they would make this clear in their terms and conditions.

You should receive an invoice from your childcare provider at least once each funded period clearly showing what you are being asked to pay for. If you think that you are being charged for your child's funded early education hours or are being invoiced incorrectly you should speak to your childcare provider in the first instance. If you are still unsure then you could contact us and we can ask the team who administer the funding to check your invoice.


How can I find a childcare provider offering the extended entitlement?

You can find details of Ofsted registered childcare providers who offer the extra hours in our Childcare Finder. Just search for childcare in your local area and then filter by 'Registered to provide up to 30 hours funded Early Education for 3 and 4 year olds'.

If your chosen childcare provider is not on the list it may be worth speaking to them to see if they are considering offering the extra hours as not all childcare providers have notified us yet of their decision. However, childcare providers have a choice whether to offer the hours and some may not be able to offer the full 30 hours.


Do I need to pay anything towards a funded place?

Your childcare provider can charge for additional services, for example, lunch, trips or music classes. However, these charges cannot be a condition of accessing your place and alternative arrangements should be made available. Any charges should be itemised and cannot be a supplementary 'top-up' (the difference between their usual fee and the funding they receive from the local authority to deliver funded places).

If you think that you are being charged for your child's funded early education hours or are being invoiced incorrectly you should speak to your childcare provider in the first instance. If you are still unsure then you could contact us and we can ask the team who administer the funding to check your invoice.


Can I use the extended entitlement with more than one childcare provider?

Yes. However, you must not exceed 30 funded hours a week or use it at more than two sites a day. Remember to get your 30 hours code checked by all the childcare providers you use.


Do I have to use the full 30 hours?

No, you can use anything from 16 to 30 hours you do not have to use the full 30 hours, just those that meet your needs.


Can foster parents claim the funding for their foster children?

Since September 2018 foster parents have been able to apply for a 30 hour code via Surrey County Council. However, this needs to be consistent with the care plan for the foster child or children listed in the application.

To quality for the funding you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are a single parent foster family and engage in paid work outside of your role as a foster parent.
  • You are a two parent foster family and you both engage in paid work outside your roles as foster parents. If your partner is not a foster parent then they must be in qualifying paid work and earn a minimum of the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum/national living wage.
  • If in receipt of carer's allowance please discuss eligibility with the Early Years Commissioning Team on eycommissioningteam@surreycc.gov.uk.

How to apply:

  • Speak to your foster child's social worker before applying. If they agree, you will need to complete a 30 hours funded childcare for children in foster care application form (PDF).
    Once you and your partner, if applicable, have completed the form and signed the declaration, the form must be counter-signed by the social worker's manager.
  • The Fostering Team Manager will need to see financial evidence and counter-sign the form.
  • Then the Social Worker Manager will pass the forms on for review to the Finance Team for a 30 hour code to be issued.

If your application is successful you will be given an 11 digit eligibility code starting with 400 to take to your childcare provider. You will need to have this reconfirmed every three months to continue receiving the funding.

You can find additional information about applying and using the funding within the application form.


Where can I find further information about the funding?

Surrey County Council's Provider Agreement explains the process childcare providers must agree to follow to be able to claim funded early education at their setting

You can find additional information about the government's proposal to extend the funded hours in their Childcare Bill: policy statement and delivery model consultation response.



Files available to download