Key information about the 30 hour ‘funded placement’ offer
All three and four year olds-and the 40% disadvantaged two year olds in England are currently eligible for funded early year’s provision for 15 hours per week, 38 weeks of the year (term time only).
In September 2017, this will increase to 30 hours per week for three and four year olds from working families.
From September 2017 the 30 hour funded entitlement offer will be rolled out across the country.
There is a lot of confusing information from government and a generally rushed policy making process that has meant there is still significant confusion around key aspects of these policies.
To be eligible parents have to earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national living or minimum wage. At the moment, this is around £115 a week (each in a dual-parent household) for those earning the nation living wage i.e. aged 25 and over, and around £111 per week for those earning national minimum wage. This means that if a parent earns, say, £120 per week but only works 6 hours, they will still be eligible for the 30-hour offer.
- Earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national living wage- or national minimum wage for those aged under 25.
- Earn less than £100,000 per year.
The self-employed, parents on zero hour contracts and those on sick or parental leave are also eligible. The additional funded hours will also be available where one parent is employed but the other has substantial caring responsibilities or is disabled.
In cases where parents are separated, eligibility applies to the parent with whom the child ‘normally lives’. Where the parent of a child has a ‘partner’- i.e., person whom they are married, have a civil partnership, or live with, the eligibility criteria also apply to that partner.
Parents will be able to apply for the 30 hour scheme (as well as the tax free scheme) through a joint online application developed by HMRC, which includes an eligibility checking system.
Once parents successfully apply online, they will be given a code which they can then present to their chosen provider(s). Providers can then use the eligibility checking system to check that the code is valid, and if it is, book that parents place. If they have no places available, providers are expected to refer parents to the local authority who can look to find alternative providers.
Parents will be expected to reconfirm their eligibility every three months. Any parent who provides false information about their eligibility can be fined between £300 and £3000.
The 30 hour scheme, like the universal 15-hour offer, is optional and the government has confirmed that providers will not be penalised for opting out. Providers who opt not to deliver the 30 hour scheme can continue to deliver the existing 15 hour offer.
Providers can offer the extended entitlement in part (i.e. less than the 30 hours but more than 15 hours). Similarly, parents do not have to take up the full 30 hours- if an eligible parent wants to take up, for example, 25 hours per week, these will still be funded.