When hours are not free hours – child care

You need a little bit of maths to work out what in theory you think of as very simple. One thing the Government shouldn’t say is you are entitled to 30 hours free childcare. As that’s not true.

When your child turns 3 you are entitled to up to 30 free hours of childcare assuming you earn under £100k. You have to apply for this and then confirm with your nursery. However it is based on 38 hours a year not 52. When factored in to a full year this is then £4 a hour saving not 100% saving.

Here is the email from our local nursery. Some details removed.

Thank you for letting us know that you plan to claim up to 30 free hours at Nursery from September 2019. Please see below an illustration of how the free funded hours will work for you if you choose to claim them at Nursery.  Based on your current booking of four days per week you would be able to claim all of the available 30 hours at Nursery if you choose to do so.

Funding is available for all children from the term after they turn three years, in Daughters case this is September 2019.  Fees would be calculated as follows assuming that the Government do not make any changes in the interim period.

Please note that that funded hours cover only 38 weeks of the year (not 51) and that the number of funded weeks varies each term as stipulated by County Council.  This means that the number of free hours available changes every term as follows:

Autumn term: September to December 14 weeks (so 14 weeks x 30 hours = 420 free hours in the term or 420/4 = 105 hours per month)

Spring term:  January to April 11 weeks (so 11 weeks x 25 hours = 330 free hours in the term or 330/4 = 82.5 hours per month)

Summer term: May to August 13 weeks. (so 13 weeks x 30 hours = 390 free hours in the term or 390/4 = 97.5 hours per month)

As you will see from our current schedule of fees we charge the first 30 hours per week of attendance over 38 weeks at £4.00 per hour for every child.  In the case of a child who claims funding with us, these hours that would otherwise have been charged at £4.00 each are instead provided free of charge.  In practice, this means that your fees in a given month would be reduced by the number of free hours available in that month x £4.00.  

If we take the Autumn term 2019 as an example, your monthly fees for daughter  for September to December inclusive, based on her attending as outlined above, would be:

£262.44 (weekly amount) x 51 weeks / 12 months = £1115.37 less 105 free hours (normally charged at £4.00 per hour) = £695.37 payable per month, September to December inclusive.

This calculation would obviously vary if you decide to increase or decrease the amount of time that Daughter attends at Nursery and will as explained above, vary each term to take account of the varying number of funded weeks in each term.  You are of course free to claim some or all of your child’s entitlement at another setting if you wish to. If you decide to claim at Nursery all you need to do is to complete and return the funding form that will be given to you during later in July. We will also need your eligibility number and your national insurance number.

I hope this helps to explain how the free funded hours are applied at Nursery. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions

If you are still reading at this point, well done. I understand that nurseries are not at fault here. The amount they receive vs the actual cost of a child at nursery does not add up. What should not happen is that the government says this is 30 free hours as it is not!


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