The Department for Education (DfE) are making temporary changes to the 30 hours free entitlement to ensure critical worker parents and those with vulnerable children are not disadvantaged during the coronavirus outbreak and can continue to access the childcare provision to which they are entitled.
In order to support this DfE are intending to make three temporary changes to the entitlement criteria:
- Parents who will not meet the minimum income threshold (16 hours per week at National Minimum/Living Wage) due to lower earnings as a direct result of coronavirus will be treated as meeting that test during the outbreak. This will apply only to parents who need to apply for, or reconfirm, their 30 hours place during the summer term. This will be a temporary change due to the coronavirus outbreak which will be reviewed as the situation develops.
- Subject to parliamentary approval of temporarily amending the regulations relating to 30 hours childcare, if critical workers exceed the maximum income threshold (£100k per year) due to increased hours as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak, they will remain eligible for 30 hours for the current tax year.
- Local authorities also have the ability to relax the validity dates on 30 hours codes where parents were ordinarily eligible and expecting to take up a 30 hours childcare place between 1 April 2020 and 31 August 2020, but have missed the reconfirmation/application deadline of 31 March 2020. This will enable children to take up their places in the summer term.
At the moment, only the children of critical workers, and children who are vulnerable, are able to access childcare. A list of children prioritised for education provision can be found here. DfE are therefore asking local authorities and childcare providers who are approached by critical worker and vulnerable child parents who have missed the 31 March deadline to accept their codes. Providers and local authorities will need to confirm that the child taking up the place did in fact turn three before 1 April 2020 to ensure they are eligible for a 30 hours place in the summer term.
We are also encouraging parents to continue to apply for, and reconfirm, their 30 hours entitlement, even when childcare settings remain closed to all but vulnerable children and children of critical workers. This will ensure a smooth transition back into childcare when settings fully reopen.