Additional 15 hours of Early Education Funding (30 hours) The Story so far...
We have had lots of parents asking so here is a quick Q&A to hopefully answer your questions. Please remember, the scheme is only in its trial stage at the moment in a few selected areas across the UK. Lancashire is not one of them.
The answers below may change as the trial moves forward and we will update you before September 2017. This is when it is expected to be rolled out across the country.
So for now……
Q. Do Early Years Providers/nursery schools/childminders have to accept eligible children for the extra 15 hours?
A. No. Our Local Authority has not yet revealed the hourly rate of funding yet. Many providers across the country are already very concerned that the hourly funding rate offered will not be enough to cover the true cost of delivering that place. Typically childcare costs (on average) in Lancashire are £4.50 per hour. Base Rate Funding payments from the Lancashire LA are £3.92 per hour. In some Counties providers are receiving as little as £3.24 per hour. Providers not in the trial scheme are waiting for the offer from their LA and will then decide whether they want to be part of the 30 hour scheme or stick with 15 hours only. No provider is under any obligation.
Q. Are all children aged three and four eligible for the 30 hour offer?
Q. How will I know if I am eligible?
A. The Local Authority should make contact with potentially eligible and childcare providers who agree to the scheme can also help to identify eligible families that already attend their settings. There will also be a dedicated website with HMRC which will include an eligibility checking system.
Those who apply will be checked by HMRC and will be based on actual income earned. Parents who provide false information about their eligibility can be fined between £300 - £3000
Q. How do parents apply?
A. Parents wishing to access the additional 15 hours (30 hours) from September 2017 will be required to return an application and declaration form to confirming they meet the national and local eligibility criteria
Q. Can the additional 15 hours be delivered outside of term time?
A. Eligible parents will be entitled to an additional 15 hours (30 hours) of early education funding per week over 38 weeks (term time only) The Government has said that it wants to ensure that parents are given the choice of a ‘stretched offer’ so that the additional hours are available outside of term time. This will only be available at settings open all year round.
Q. How much is the minimum wage?
A. A parent will need to be earning the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum or living wage. At present, the living wage is £7.20 an hour; therefore, the minimum income requirement for a parent (over the age of 25) is £115.20 a week. The minimum wage for 21- to 24-year-old's is £6.70 an hour; therefore, the minimum income requirement for this group is £107.20 a week. You must also be earning less than £100,000 a year each. So if a parent works less than 16 hours a week they are still eligible. It is based on income earned, not hours worked but must be less than £100,000 a year each.
Q. What if a parent works a zero hour's contract?
A. A parent who is on a 'zero-hours contract' will get work some weeks, but not others, and may not know in advance if they will have work in any given week. If, on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage, their child will qualify for the additional 15 hours (30 hours) of childcare.
Q. What if a parents earnings change from week to week?
A. A parent will be eligible if they expect (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months. The eligibility criteria have been designed this way to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes and those who are about to start working or increase their hours.
Q. What does the term 'parent' mean in relation to the additional 15 hours?
A. ‘Parent’ means a person who has parental responsibility for the child or care of the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earnings threshold.
Q. Do both parents have to be in employment?
A. Yes. Both parents have to be in employment unless you are a lone parent. Lone parents are eligible if working.
Q. Do parents need to be UK resident's to apply?
A. The person applying for the childcare (usually the parent but could be their partner) is ‘resident in the UK’. This means that they must have recourse to public funds.
Q. What evidence will be required?
A. Payslips from the last 3 months; or, an SA250 form or other HMRC document showing a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) from within the last year for those who are self-employed.
Q. Can parents use funding at more than one provider?
A. Eligible parents accessing the extended entitlement will be able to take up their 30 hours of childcare across two providers in order to support their childcare needs. This may change to three.