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Thousands of parents to start receiving extra free childcare from TODAY

THOUSANDS more parents can start accessing extra free childcare from today following a Government rollout.

Working parents of two-year-olds are now able to access 15 hours of free childcare per week.

Alamy
Working parents of two-year-olds can access extra free childcare from today[/caption]

Working parents are classed as those who individually earn more than £8,670 but less than £100,000 adjusted net income a year.

For couples, the rules apply to both parents, so both must earn at least £8,670 and neither can earn more than £100,000.

The move to extend free childcare was announced last year in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Statement.

Parents eligible for the free childcare boost from today could start applying on January 2.

But the application deadline to receive the extra childcare for the summer school term was March 31.

That means if you haven’t already applied you won’t get the boost this academic year.

However, if your child will be two or older by August 31, you can apply to receive 15 hours free childcare from today and start accessing it from September.

The rollout of extra free childcare to working parents on two-year-olds is phase one of three planned by the Government.

Fifteen hours free childcare will be expanded to working parents of nine-month-olds to two-year-olds from September, with parents able to apply from May 12.

From September 2025, all eligible working parents of children aged nine months up to three years will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare a week.

How can I apply for free childcare?

You can apply for 15 hours free childcare through a nearby childcare provider or your local council.

You can find what council area you fall under by using the Government’s council locator tool.

You can apply for 30 hours free childcare on the Government’s website and from when your child is two years and 36 weeks old.

Once you have applied for a childcare account you receive a code which you have to give to your provider.

You should check with your childcare provider to find out the exact date your 30 hours of free childcare will start.

Crucially, you have to reconfirm your eligibility every three months.

What other childcare help is available?

There are a number of tax breaks and grants designed to help with the cost of childcare.

You can usually use them for care like registered childminders, nannies, playschemes, nurseries, and holiday clubs.

It’s worth checking out the Government’s childcare costs calculator to figure out which scheme will save you the most money though, as not all can be claimed at the same time.

Free childcare for two-year-olds

Parents living in England and claiming any of the below benefits can access some free childcare for two-year-olds:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit (where household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments)
  • Tax credits (where household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax)
  • Pension Credit (guaranteed element)

Two-year-olds can also get free childcare if they:

  • Are looked after by a local authority
  • Have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • Get disability living allowance
  • Have left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

You may have to pay for extra costs like meals, nappies or trips.

You should contact your childcare provider or local council to find out more.

Tax-free childcare

Those not on Universal Credit or Tax Credits may qualify for tax-free childcare.

You can get up to £500 every three months – up to a maximum of £2,000 a year – for each of your children.

If your child is disabled, you can claim more – £1,000 every three months, up to £4,000 maximum per year.

Anyone eligible can sign up by creating an online childcare account via the Government’s website.

Child benefit

You can get child benefit if you’re responsible for a child aged under 16, or if they are under 20 and in approved education or training.

Child benefit is currently worth £24 a week for the eldest child or only child, worth £1,248 a year.

Money saving tips for parents

WE'VE put together six top tips to cut costs, nab freebies and to make sure you're not fined.

  • Free prescriptions and dental care – Prescriptions cost £9.15 a pop in England, while NHS dental costs vary by location. You can get both for free while you’re pregnant and for 12 months after your baby’s due date. Ask your doctor or midwife for a maternity exemption certificate (MATEX) to claim the free care.
  • Free milk, infant formula, vitamins or fruit and veg – Under the Healthy Start programme, you may be entitled to the freebies if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have a child under four and you’re on certain benefits, such as Universal Credit.
  • £500 free grant – In England, Northern Ireland and Wales you may be entitled to a Sure Start grant of £500 if you’re on certain benefits and expecting your first child or expecting more than one baby – such as twins.To claim, you need to fill out the following form on Gov.uk and get your doctor or midwife to sign it.
  • Register the birth in time or face a £200 fine – You need to register the birth within 42 days of your baby being born with your local registry office. This costs £11 in England and Wales.
  • Update a will or update it – If you don’t have a will, in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where one parent dies, children will only inherit cash if the estate is worth more than £250,000 – otherwise all the money will go to the surviving spouse. If you don’t want that to happen, you need to get a will stating your wishes.
  • Consider getting life insurance – No-one likes to think about death but if something happened to you, could the family survive without your salary? If not, you many want to consider life insurance. Use a comparison service to find not only the cheapest, but the most suitable cover for your needs.

For each subsequent child, parents get £15.90 a week – or £826.80 a year.

The cash is paid every four weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can apply for.

But be aware, if you earn over a certain amount you have to pay some or all of your child benefit back.

This is done through what’s known as the High Income Child Benefit Charge.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing squeezeteam@thesun.co.uk.

Plus, you can join our Sun Money Chats and Tips Facebook group to share your tips and stories.

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