Free early education and childcare

2 year olds

15 hours per week of free childcare is available for 2 year olds who meet the criteria below. Children must meet either criterion A, B, C or D to be eligible for funding.

Criterion A

Economic: Children whose parents/carers are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - if the combined household (both parents) income from work is £15,400 or less a year, after tax, not including benefit payments
  • Tax Credits, and the combined household (both parents) income is £16,190 or less a year, before tax.
  • Guaranteed Element of the State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Criterion B

Children looked after by the Local Authority:

  • Child in Care ‘looked after’
  • Child has left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order.

N.B. Details of a Social Worker able to verify the above information is required.

Criterion C

Child with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability as defined by:

  • Children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
  • Child with a current Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEND).
  • Child with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

Note: Documentation copies are required to verify eligibility for Criterion C.

Criterion D

Non-UK citizen who cannot claim benefits:

Parents with immigration status with ‘no recourse to public funds’ may still get free childcare for their two year old. They must live in England and the combined household income must be no more than:

  • £26,500 for families outside of London with one child
  • £34,500 for families within London with one child
  • £30,600 for families outside of London with two or more children
  • £38,600 for families within London with two or more children

Cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.

Once a child's funding has been agreed, it will continue even if the family’s circumstances change at a later date.

Expansion of criteria for eligible working parents from April 2024

The current 2 year old funding criteria (for disadvantaged parents) will be expanding from April 2024. It will include 2 year olds of eligible working parents.

The new criteria include households where both parents are working, and each parent earning no more than £100,000. This amount refers to adjusted net income or more. It also applies to single households where the parent is earning at least £183 per week. This is the equivalent of 16 hours a week at minimum wage.

To apply for an eligibility code visit the Childcare Choices website. This application relates to the new 2-year-old funding criteria for working parents.

Parents must apply by the end of the month before a new term starts in order for their code to be valid. As with the existing criteria, eligible children can get funding from the school term following their second birthday. Parents/carers must provide eligibility codes under the working parent criteria to their chosen childcare provider in order for them to claim the funding on their child’s behalf.

Apply for free childcare for 2 year olds

You can apply by contacting an approved childcare provider in the borough

The provider must be registered to offer free places for 2 year olds. They will ask you to provide proof of eligibility, for example a benefit award letter. They can also request an eligibility check on your behalf.

Find a free childcare provider

They will let you know when the funding can start.

When will my child be eligible for the free entitlement?

Child born between Term they can start
1 September and 31 December is eligible from January Spring Term
1 January and 31 March is eligible from April Summer Term
1 April and 31 August is eligible from September Autumn Term