The government is introducing more help for eligible working parents in a few stages over this year and next.

How Does It Work?

The current funding for 3 & 4 year olds refers to 15 and 30 hours per week. These hours are across 38 weeks a year, a more accurate title would be either 570 or 1140 hours per year, so at Beach Babies which opens for 51 weeks a year this is a bit over 11 or 22 hours per week. Depending on your nursery or playgroup, you will still receive a monthly invoice even when claiming funding.

This is made up of:

  • The additional hours per week that your child attends that is not covered by the funded hours.
  • Costs that are not covered by the funded amount the nursery or playgroup receives.

When Might I Get the Funding?

Children become eligible at the start of term following the age-specific criteria. For Cambridgeshire, the term days are 1st January, 1st April, and 1st September:

  • Currently, all 3 & 4 year olds get the 15 hours, referred to as universal funding. Those who are eligible get double this, called 30 hours or extended funding.
  • 1st April 2024: Children who are 2 years old before this date get 15 hours funding.
  • 1st September 2024: Children who are 9 months old before this date get 15 hours funding.
  • 1st September 2025: All eligible children get 30 hours funding.

How do you check if you are elgible

How Do You Check If You Are Eligible?

Check out whether you will get the funding on

A limited number of fully funded spaces are available through our Bursary Scheme. Those with priority include children who are or have been in local authority care, children who have significant special educational needs, and children whose families are seriously in need.

Consumables Charge

In almost all nurseries, the funded rate paid by the government through the local authorities doesn’t cover the cost to deliver the care and education they provide. As such, they charge for ‘consumables’, this is a misnomer we are struggling to correct, a better descriptor would be a ‘sustainability’ charge.

Tax-Free Childcare

You will receive your child’s funding code through your Tax-Free Childcare account. When claiming funding, you can still use this to pay for your childcare. It saves you 80% of the fees you pay your childcare provider up to a maximum of £2000 per year. You can also use this to pay for wrap-around care or holiday care once your child starts school.

When to Apply

  • If your child is at nursery and you already have a Tax-Free Childcare account, you will get a form to complete from the nursery in the term before the funding starts. This is where you log your code and other essential information.
  • If your child is enrolled but hasn’t yet started, you should apply for the funding code a month or two before the term in which they can start claiming funding from. The nursery or playgroup will send you a form to complete.
  • If you haven’t yet enrolled your child, contact the nursery or playgroup you would prefer for your child to reserve a space for them. Sadly, many nurseries have an 18-month waiting list, and this will only increase as the new funding increases demand.

A Personal Plea

The early years have been underfunded for years, the funding rate typically increases by half what the National Minimum Wage rises by. At Beach Babies, we pay the Real Living Wage which, although higher, also increases at a similar rate.

Over more than a decade, parents and nurseries have borne this cost:

  • Do read articles on funding, lack of nursery spaces, and closures of childcare settings.
  • Do think about these when liaising with or voting for policymakers.

As parents, you are paying the price for this now, in the long term society loses out when people can’t work due to a lack of childcare. When children have parents who can’t work but need or want to work, the whole family and then the local area suffers.