Government Announces Opening of Childcare Applications: What Parents Need to Know for September 2024

Last week, the Government released their Spring Budget for 2024. In this, they announced that applications for the next phase of childcare are due to open on the 12th May. 

From this date, eligible working parents of children from 9 months old to 3 years old will be able to register to access 15 hours of government-funded childcare a week. 

When Does The Childcare Start? 

Places will be available for September 2024 in every area of the country, but some places already have hold waiting lists for over 6 months. So, it is encouraged that parents act now to try to secure a place if they have a preferred provider.

It forms part of the government’s long-term plan after the launch of 15 hours for eligible working parents of two-year-olds - with over 150,000 children initially set to benefit from this offer in April. 

For more information about the upcoming changes to childcare click here.

How Do I Apply?

Before applying, parents should check their eligibility and reach out to their local provider to secure a place for their child ahead of time. 

Once these steps are completed, the application system then requires parents to reconfirm their eligibility for both Tax-Free childcare and 15/30 government-funded childcare hours every three months. 

If you are already claiming tax-free childcare, and need to reconfirm eligibility between 1st April and 12 May, you will be automatically issued a code in the post by HMRC after applications open.
At this time, this is not available in Scotland and Wales, but similar schemes are running.

If you have concerns about finding a place, the government are urging parents to contact their local authorities.

Upcoming Changes to Childcare

From April 2024: Eligible working parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of childcare support.

From September 2024: The 15 hours of childcare support will be extended to eligible working parents of children from the age of 9 months to 3-years-old.

From September 2025: Eligible working parents with a child from 9 months old up to school age will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare a week. 

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How Do I Get Tax-Free Childcare?

Childcare expenses can often weigh heavy on your family's budget. While childcare can be expensive, there is help out there to help ease this burden. One of these forms of support is Tax-Free Childcare.

This scheme is available to a broad range of parents. To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child must be under 12 years old, or under 17 if they have a disability (the scheme is available until the September after the child turns 11)
  • You and your partner must be working, self-employed, or on sick leave or annual leave.
  • You must earn a minimum income of the equivalent of 16 hours/week, but neither you or your partner can earn more than £100,000 per year.
  • You must not be receiving other forms of financial assistance for childcare, such as Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, or Child Tax Credit.
  • You must be a UK resident.

To read more about tax-free childcare click here

Other Childcare Changes in the Spring Budget

The spring budget revealed that there will be no increase in the amount of financial support given towards childcare. 

In July 2023, the amount of childcare costs that could be claimed through universal credit increased, but an equivalent increase to the Working Tax credit has not been announced - leading to many families on the old benefits system being unable to claim support towards the full amount of childcare costs.

To read more about the spring budget in 2023 click here.

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