In this guide, we answer parent FAQs about nursery fees and give you practical information about funding and other support currently available.
Paying Nursery Fees
We’ll send you an invoice for your nursery sessions at least three working days before the start of each calendar month letting you know how much is due for that month.
The fees for each month must be paid no later than the first day of the relevant month.
The first month’s fees must be paid by bank transfer but all other fees must be paid by direct debit (excluding expected voucher or Tax Free Childcare payments) unless we have agreed you can pay by a different method.
We have a non-refundable registration fee of £75.00, which is payable per family unit.
This means that you can register siblings (either at the same time or subsequently, whilst the first child is still attending) without paying a further registration fee, provided that all of those children are registered at the same nursery. This registration fee is payable by all families, unless taking up a funded only place under the ‘Early Years Free Entitlement’. If you wish to re-join the nursery and have no siblings currently registered the registration fee will be payable once more.
15/30 Hours Free Childcare
The 15 and 30 hours free childcare scheme is a government initiative that provides eligible parents with 38 weeks of free childcare hours for their children.
The current position (as of July 2023) is as follows:
- Subject to meeting the Government’s eligibility criteria, parents of some 2 years olds can access 15 hours a week (570 hours per year) free childcare for 38 weeks of the year (during term-time).
- All 3 and 4-year-olds living in England are entitled to 15 hours a week (570 hours per year) free childcare for 38 weeks of the year (during term-time).
- Eligible working parents however, are entitled to up to 30 Hours Free Childcare – that’ s 1,140 hours a year!
You can use 30 Hours Free Childcare to pay for:
- Full day care (e.g nurseries)
- Sessional providers (e.g. playgroups)
- Sure Start Children’s Centres
- After school clubs
In the 2023 Budget the government set out plans to extend the free childcare scheme to the parents of children from the age of 9 months. Currently the timeline for this is as follows:
- From April 2024, all working parents of 2-year-olds can access 15 hours per week
- From September 2024, all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old can access 15 hours per week
- From September 2025 all working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years old can access 30 hours free childcare per week
Eligibility varies based on factors such as your income, employment status, and the age of your child. To find out if you qualify, you can check the government’s official website which has a wealth of information and a childcare calculator. www.childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Currently the free childcare scheme is available for children aged 2 to 4 years old, starting the term after their second birthday. 2-year old eligibility is also subject to meeting government’s set criteria.
In the 2023 Budget, the government set out plans to extend the free childcare scheme to the parents of children from the age of 9 months. As yet these plans have not been clarified by the government.
If you require more hours than the free entitlement, you will need to discuss this with your chosen provider. They may offer additional hours at an additional cost or provide information about other available childcare options.
While the free childcare hours are funded by the government, there may still be additional costs involved, such as charges for meals or extra activities.
You can start using your 30 hours from the beginning of the term after your child turns 3, or the beginning of the term after you receive your eligibility code (whichever is later).
Spring Term – 1st January – 31st March
Summer Term – 1st April – 31st August
Autumn Term – 1st September – 31st December
You can apply for 30 Hours Free Childcare up to 16 weeks before your child turns 3, but you won’t be able to start using it until your child is 3-years-old. It’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible within these 16 weeks before your child’s third birthday to avoid disappointment but remember…
When you receive your code it will have an ‘end date’ telling you when you need to apply for the next one.
The clock starts ticking on your code as soon as you receive it, so you’ll need to renew it within three months of that date – NOT the date you start using your free hours – or you’ll miss out on your free hours for the next term!
To apply, you need to visit the government’s official website and complete the application process. You will need to provide relevant information about your child, your family, and your circumstances.
Many childcare providers ‘stretch’ the 1,140 free hours over 12 months (instead of 38 weeks term-time only) so you benefit from the savings throughout the year. This means that you receive fewer than 30 free hours each week but – if your child attends nursery during half terms and holidays – you’ll still receive your 1,140 hour entitlement each year and will get free hours every week, not just during term-time.
In order to get your full 1,140 hours entitlement, providers often insist on you fulfilling a minimum weekly booking pattern for your child.
Although there is often a short grace period, if there are any changes in your employment or circumstances during the scheme, you should inform the government or your local authority immediately. Depending on the nature of the change, it may affect your eligibility or the number of hours you are entitled to receive.
Tax Free Childcare
Tax-Free Childcare is a government scheme designed to help working parents with childcare costs. It is available to working parents of children aged 0-11 (0-16 and if the child has a disability).
The scheme allows eligible parents to set up an online childcare account, which you can pay in to whenever you like and can be used to pay your childcare provider directly.
Here’s the great bit…For every £8 you pay into the account, the government will pay in an extra £2, which can really add up over time!
You can get up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children or up to £1,000 every 3 months (£4000 a year) for a child with a disability.
If your circumstances change or you no longer want to pay in the account then you can withdraw the money you have built up, with the government withdrawing their corresponding contribution (sorry!)
The eligibility criteria is similar (but not exactly the same) as 30 hours free Childcare and you will be required to re-confirm your circumstances every 3 months. You can check whether you would be eligible using the online calculator at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/
Yes. You can use your Tax-Free Account to pay your childcare provider’s invoice for any childcare above and beyond your free hours entitlement. You can do this by logging in to your account and sending payment directly to the provider’s bank account.
Depending on personal circumstances, some people benefit more from childcare vouchers and credits, whilst others benefit more from Tax-Free childcare. The Childcare Calculator at Childcare Choices can help you decide which would be better for you and your family, but ultimately you need to figure out what’s best for you
If you decide to switch to Tax-Free Childcare, you’ll need to let both your employer and HRMC know that you’ve stopped using your vouchers within three months of successfully applying for Tax-Free Childcare.
If you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare:
• Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit stops straight away
• Childcare vouchers you already have can still be used, but you can’t claim any more
If you are eligible for Tax-Free Childcare you will be given a Tax-Free Childcare Account which you access through your online Childcare Service Account (the same online account that you receive when you apply for 30 hours).
You’ll be given a unique reference number for your child and will need to log in and confirm eligibility every 3 months. You’ll need to give the number to your childcare provider so they can match your payments to your child.
To use your Tax-Free Account you simply pay however much you like into your Tax-Free Childcare Account using your bank card, so the government can top it up by £2 for every £8 you’ve paid in.
You can then ‘release’ the money in your Tax-Free Childcare Account to your childcare provider to pay them directly. If you’d prefer, you can also set up a regular payment from your Tax-Free Childcare account to your Childcare Provider on a certain date – whichever suits you best!
• You can only use Tax-Free Childcare to pay a childcare provider if the provider is signed up to the scheme, so check with them before you get started
• Once your childcare provider has signed up to the scheme, you can simply add them as a payee on your Tax-Free Childcare Account
• When you pay money in it takes 24 hours to clear before you can pay your childcare provider
• It will be another 3 days before your childcare provider receives the money