Funded Hours

Extended Funded Childcare for Three and Four Year Olds: What We Offer at Bristol Childcare


From September 2017 the Government is providing up to 1140 hours of funded childcare per year. This is often referred to as ‘30 hours free childcare’ or ‘Extended Offer’ because it is free at the point of delivery for parents over the academic year of 38 weeks.

At Bristol Childcare we refer to the offer as ‘funded childcare’ because the Government pays us for each hour used. This is a rate completely independent of our charging structure and varies between local authorities. The hours are ‘free’ to access for parents and you will not be charged anything for them. Unlike some providers, we will not ask for voluntary additional payments and will not charge for additional services such as French lessons.

As we are open all year we ‘stretch’ the funded hours over 47.5 weeks of the year.

Eligibility for funded childcare

Parents of three and four year olds will need to meet eligibility criteria in order to access the funded childcare. The Government guidance states:

Parents of three and four year olds will need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare:

  • Parents earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
  • This equates to £120 a week (or c.£6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or £112.80 a week (or c.£5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old.
  • This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on a zero hours contract.
  • The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
  • Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
  • Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
  • Must not earn more than £100,000 per year (either parent)

Parents can check whether they are eligible for a range of government childcare offers, including 30 hours, via Childcare Choices at: or the Childcare Calculator at: Those who could be eligible for 30 hours and/or Tax-Free Childcare will be directed to the digital childcare service to apply.

Parents who do not qualify for the extended offer (1140 hours) will remain entitled to 570 hours and do not need to apply using the online system and the existing manual system (operated in nursery) will apply.

Further information can be found at

Accessing the funded hours

You will need to demonstrate you are eligible for the extended offer. To do this you will need to have a government ID and this will allow you to get an access code which will then have to be provided to us.

To register and get your code please visit

Once you have your eligibility code, please give this to us, along with your National Insurance Number and proof of your child’s date of birth and the signed Declaration Form (allowing us to use this information). We will use this information to check your code is valid and work with you to organise your child’s attendance hours.

You will need to renew your eligibility code status frequently and we draw your attention to the Government guidance which states:

Parents will be prompted every three months to reconfirm the details they entered on their application are still accurate. This is to check that they are still eligible. They will be prompted, via text message and/or email, four weeks before their reconfirmation deadline and again two weeks before the deadline if they still haven’t reconfirmed. If their circumstances have changed, they will log into their childcare service account, amend their details and then resubmit their details. If their circumstances have not changed, they only need to reconfirm their details.

If parents miss the reconfirmation deadline, they will receive a message telling them that their eligibility has lapsed. Although they are no longer eligible, they may be able to retain their childcare place for a short period; this is known as a grace period. Parents are directed to speak to their childcare provider about this.


What is Bristol Childcare offering

As we are open all year round (except Christmas) we will be offering 24 hours (max) per week for 47.5 weeks of the year. The funded hours are based on a ‘use it or lose it’ system so any unused hours cannot be transferred to another week.

In order to balance demand of the offer with staffing and availability of places for non-funded children we will offer funded hours as follows:

Monday –         9am to 5pm

Tuesday –        9am to 5pm

Wednesday –   9am to 5pm

Thursday –       9am to 5pm

Friday –             9am to 5pm


This model will allow 24 hours to be taken over a minimum of 3 days. 

What is included and not included in the funded hours

Extras such as nappies, late pick up, early drop off and food remain payable. Any additional hours outside the ‘funded hours’ are also payable according to our fee structure. Note that the fee structure applies to payable hours only.



There is no longer a ‘minimum session’ length but please be aware that we charge by the hour or part thereof and funded hours are also allocated on the same basis (no part hours). The maximum number of hours per day has been increased from 6 to 10 by the local authority and so the full 8 hours offered can be used as required.



Q – Can I use my ‘free hours’ between 12pm and 1pm? I couldn’t before.

Yes, you can now use your hours over lunchtime to allow uninterrupted care.


Q – You say 24 hours are offered over 47.5 weeks. How do I know when the remaining (payable) period is?

A – The funded hours calendar is available each year to show which days are not eligible. This is usually 1 week over Christmas (not payable), 2 weeks at the end of August and the remainder is allocated over the year. 

Q – My child currently attends 40 hours, 8 hours per day from 10 to 6. Can I use my 24 hours and just pay for 16?

A – You can only use your hours from 9am to 5pm. Any hours outside this period will be charged. E.g. With the attendance hours of 10-6, you would be able to access funded hours from 10 to 5pm – 7 hours per day. On the first 3 days you would be able to use all of the 7 hours with 1 hour payable, leaving 3 hours for the final day. You would therefore pay 3 days of 1 hour, 1 day of 5 hours and 1 day of 8 hours. These would be payable at the appropriate hourly tier.

Q – My child attends 7.30 to 1.30 every day, this is 30 hours per week. Why is it not all free?

A – We are offering the ‘stretched’ model and so this works out at 24 hours per week. We are only offering funded hours from 9am so the period before this would be chargeable. We recommend adjusting your attendance times to maximise the use of your funded hours. 

Q – What’s the minimum wage that is being used for the threshold ‘earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week at NMW’?

A – The National Minimum Wage is different for different age ranges. To be eligible, you (and your partner if you have one), must either:

  • each expect to earn at least £115 a week or work* more than 16 hours at the National Living Wage, or each expect to earn at least £111 a week or work more than 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage. This means you don’t have to actually work 16 hours a week but earn at least the equivalent of these wage rates
  • each expect to earn at least £61.92 a week if you’re under 18, £84.80 a week if you’re aged 18 to 20 or £52.80 a week if you’re an apprentice (either under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship)

*Work includes employed and self-employed persons.

Q – Is it only parents who can apply or can grandparents and people with special guardianship orders apply?

A – Only an adult who is responsible for a child (i.e. is considered part of the household from HMRC’s perspective) will be able to apply. If you are living with your parents (i.e. the child’s grandparents) the income of the grandparent is not included in the ‘household’ income for the purposes of tax credits or Tax Free Childcare or 30 Hours. Please contact HMRC as regards this because Bristol Childcare cannot make a judgement about eligibility.

Q – What happens if parents separate?

A – Eligibility applies to the parent with whom the child ‘normally lives’. Please get in touch with HMRC as a change in living circumstances must be reported.



Eligibility Codes and HMRC

Q – If you have twins, or triplets do you need separate codes for each child?

A – Yes, you will have unique codes for each child.

Q – How easy is it to get a government gateway ID?

A – You can apply online now to have a Gateway ID ready. It does take time and you need to input personal and financial information before access is granted.

Q – How do self-employed people apply? Do they have to project their income?

A – Yes self-employed people can apply in exactly the same way as employed people. Yes, you will need to discuss your projected income with HMRC.

Q – What will the grace period be?

A – This has now been confirmed by the DfE and will work like this:

  • A child (parent) who becomes ineligible during the first half of a term should be funded until the end of that term or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is shorter.
  • A child who becomes ineligible during the second half of a term should be funded until the end of the following term or for as long as they remain under Compulsory School Age, whichever is shorter.


Date child becomes ineligible End of Grace Period + Funding of Extra Free Hours
1 September to 21 October 31 December
22 October to 31 December 31 March
1 January to 10 February 31 March
11 February to 31 March 31 August
1 April to 26 May 31 August
27  May to 31 August 31 December


Q – What happens I become unemployed on day 2 of the code being valid? Do I get funded childcare for 3 months?

A – If you lose your job on day 2 of a code being validated you will continue to get your funded hours for the whole 3 months plus the grace period (see above table).

Operational Sessions and Charges

Q – Why do you only offer funded hours at set times?

A – We receive a lot less than our hourly rate from the Government so we need to reduce some of the variability in staffing to reduce our costs.

Q –  Do I have to pay a voluntary top up?

A – Absolutely not – we will never charge extra or ask for voluntary donations for the funded hours.

Q – What will we do if the eligibility code’s not valid or I claim I wrote it down wrong and will bring it next time then forget? Will you give the space to another child on your waiting list?

A – Only a valid code will guarantee the funding for the extra 15 hours. It is your responsibility to provide this. If you have lost your code you must contact HMRC. We are not expected to ‘hold’ a place for a child whose parent is still ‘applying’ or ‘re-applying’ or has lost their code. We are not funded by the LA for any child who does not have a valid code.

Q – Will the maximum cap of 6 hours a day be changing?

A – Yes, you can now access 8 hours with us.

Q – Will the minimum of 2.5 hour sessions be changing?

A – Yes. There will be no minimum session length, but we only allow bookings in blocks of 1 hour and attendance must comply with our Terms which states that a child must attend a minimum of 8 hours over a minimum of 2 days.

Q – Does the min and max session lengths apply to Eligible 2-Year-Olds too?

A – Yes. The session framework is the same.

Q – If the whole funded hours claim is not used, is that ok?

A – Yes, you can access as few hours as you wish.

Q – Can the extra funded hours (not used) be saved up and used at another time?

A – No. The funded hours are a ‘use it or lose it’ resource.

Q – Can I request additional funded hours on an ad hoc basis?

A – No. The local authority does not allow for increases or decreases until the start of the next term (e.g. January, April, September).