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A Guide to Funding in Nursery and Preschool

The Government are expanding their Early Years funding programme, rolling funding eligibility out to children aged nine months over a two-year period. These FAQs will provide more detail about the government scheme and what it could mean for your childcare fees.

 

When the Government talks about funding hours, they refer to the number that you can claim during school term time, which is 38 weeks of the year.

If your child is attending in our All Year Round provision, you can still claim the funding, but we will stretch it to apply across our full opening period of 49.7 weeks per year, so you will be able to claim fewer hours per week, but for more weeks of the year. Children who attend with us for 49.7 weeks of the year (attending in the Beauley, Leighton, Stackpool, Pearl and Ruby Rooms) will be able to claim 11.5 hours a week or 23 hours a week for 49.7 weeks of the year.

Children attending in our Term Time Only provision (the Raleigh Room) can claim 15 or 30 hours a week as this provision is open for 38 weeks of the year.

 

All children get funding from the term after their third birthday, but children from working families will be able to access this earlier.

Not everyone will be eligible for Working Family funding, and you will need to apply to check your eligibility for the scheme. You can apply at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk but broadly speaking you will be eligible if:

  • All parent / carers in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at minimum wage
  • All parents / carers in the household earn no more than £100,000 (each).

Exceptions and special circumstances

If you are self-employed or on a zero hours contract, you may still be eligible – HMRC will take an average of your hours worked and earnings over the last twelve months to determine this.

Parents on Maternity or Paternity Leave will still be eligible – SMP and SPP will count towards your income for the year. With this in mind, if your SMP or SPP runs out after nine months of leave, you should apply for funding prior to this date.

If you are a registered carer, your Carer’s Allowance will count as one parent’s income.

Foster parents can apply for funding (as long as you work outside of your fostering commitments) and as long as your social worker supports your foster child attending nursery or preschool.

Some families are eligible for funding from the first full term after their child turns two even if they do not meet the criteria outlined above – this is known as Two Year Old Eligibility. If you fall into this category, you will need to apply for your funding with Bristol City Council and if successful, will be able to claim 11.5 hours over our full 49.7 week opening period (and may also be eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium – please see below for further details). Please see below on how to apply for Two Year Eligibility funding.

 

If you have a child who is two and you are claiming one of the following, you should apply for Two Year Eligibility Funding:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit (or both), and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Your child is looked after by a local authority
  • Your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • Your child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • Your child has left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

You can apply at www.bristol.gov.uk/freeplacefortwos. We have a limited number of priority places for children who are in receipt of Two Year Eligibility Funding – once the Council has confirmed your funding, please email family.services@bs3community.org.uk to discuss availability.

Age / MonthApril 2024September 2024September 2025
Under twosChildren will be entitled to 11.5 hours a week over our full 49.7 week opening period from the first full term after they turn nine months old, so long as all parents in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each. You will need to apply for this funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.ukChildren will be entitled to 23 hours a week over our full 49.7 week opening period from the first full term after they turn nine months old, so long as all parents in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each. You will need to apply for this funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
Two years to three yearsSome children are entitled to 11.5 hours of funding a week over our full 49.7 week opening period from the first full term after their second birthday, known as Two Year Eligibility funding. Eligibility for this funding will be determined by income for families who are in receipt of certain benefits rather than Working Family eligibility criteria. You can find out more about whether you are entitled to this funding at www.bristol.gov.uk/freeplacefortwos
Two years to three yearsMore working families will be entitled to 11.5 hours a week over our full opening period of 49.7 weeks of the year from the first full term after their child’s second birthday, so long as all parents in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each. You will need to apply for this funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.ukChildren of working families will be entitled to 23 hours a week over our full opening period of 49.7 weeks of the year from the first full term after their child’s second birthday, so long as all parents in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each. You will need to apply for this funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
Three years and upAll children are entitled to Universal hours from the first full term after their third birthday. There is no need to apply online for these universal hours.

Children can access 15 hours of Universal Funding a week for 38 weeks of the year in our Term Time Only provision at the Southville Centre (Raleigh Room) or 11.5hours of Universal Funding for 49.7 weeks of the year in our All Year Round provisions at the Southville Centre (Stackpool Room) and Chessel Centre (Ruby Room).

Some children over three are entitled to expanded Working Family funding from the first full term after their third birthday. Families can apply for expanded funding so long as all parents in the household are earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each. You will need to apply for the expanded funding at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

Children can access 30 hours of Expanded Funding a week for 38 weeks of the year in our Term Time Only provision at the Southville Centre (Raleigh Room) OR 23 hours of Universal Funding a week for 49.7 weeks of the year in our All Year Round provisions at the Southville Centre (Stackpool Room) and Chessel Centre (Ruby Room).

You can claim funding from the first full term after your child reaches the eligible age.

Full terms are in January, April and September and funding eligibility is as follows:

  • To be eligible from January, your child must have reached the eligible age by the 31 December preceding.
  • To be eligible from April, your child must have reached the eligible age by the 31 March preceding.
  • To be eligible from September, your child must have reached the eligible age by the 31 August preceding.

PLEASE NOTE: you can also only make changes to funding from January, April and September, so if your eligibility changes, you will not be able to alter your funding or make a new funding claim outside of these three designated months. This includes porting your funding over from one provider to another in or outside of Bristol – you can only move funding between providers in January, April or September, unless your current provider agrees to release your funding mid-term.

Please also be aware that our standard notice periods, as outlined in our Terms and Conditions would also apply.

 

Working Family Funding

You can apply for a Working Family funding code at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and the Council recommends that you do this a couple of months before your child is eligible for the funding (so two months before they turn nine months old, two years old or three years old). If eligible, you will need to renew your eligibility every three months.

Once you have received your expanded Working Family funding code, and if you are already registered for sessions with us, you should email family.services@bs3community.org.uk to notify us. We will then send you out the relevant paperwork to complete.

Please note that you will also be required to provide a copy of your child’s ID (passport or birth certificate) in order to administrate the funding.

Families who are accessing funding for the first time and who are not currently registered with another childcare provider, are eligible to claim as soon as their child is of the appropriate age and once they have completed the funding paperwork.

However, please note that, if you are moving your funding from another provider, unless they agree to release your remaining allowance for the term, funding will only be applied to your booking from the January, April or September after you provide confirmation of your funding.  We will require written confirmation, including a date to swap your funding over from your current provider to facilitate this change. Alternatively, private fees can be applied to bookings should you wish your child to start prior to their funding transfer.

Two Year Old Entitlement

If you have a child who is two and you are claiming one of the following, you should apply for Two Year Eligibility Funding:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit (or both), and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Your child is looked after by a local authority
  • Your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • Your child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • Your child has left care under an adoption order, special guardianship order or a child arrangements order

You can apply at www.bristol.gov.uk/freeplacefortwos

Once you have received confirmation of your eligibility for Two Year Entitlement Funding, you should email family.services@bs3community.org.uk to notify us. We will then send you out the relevant paperwork to complete.

Please note that

  • Families who are accessing funding for the first time and who are not currently registered with another childcare provider, are eligible to claim as soon as their child is of the appropriate age and once they have completed the funding paperwork.
  • Children in receipt of Two Year Entitlement funding are required to give 30 days’ written notice to move funding between providers.

Eligibility for funding does not automatically mean that we will be able to offer you sessions. Funding can be applied to confirmed and booked sessions but does not mean that we will be able to accommodate families who have funding but are not registered with us. Any requests to book sessions will be done in line with our Admissions, Bookings and Funding Policy and using our existing waiting list.

Yes, because the funding is for education only, we ask that you pay a “consumables” charge to help our charity pay for items such as food, snacks, non-EYFS related treats and outings and stock items of consumables.

Our Consumables Charge has been calculated in conjunction with Bristol City Council and is set at £12 for a full day and £6 for a half day. Please note that these charges are only added to fully funded sessions, as they are built into our pricing structure for privately paid for and part funded sessions.

Working Family Funding

Yes, recipients of Working Family Funding can split your funding claim between no more than two providers, but you must ensure that you do not overclaim the funded hours that you are entitled to.

The maximum number of hours you can claim in a twelve month period (from when you become eligible for funding) is

570 (for 11.5 hours over 49.7 weeks or 15 hours over 38 weeks)

or

1,140 (for 23 hours over 49.7 weeks or 30 hours over 38 weeks).

Providers are able to divide funding by the nearest 0.5 hour. Please be aware that your funding forms must match for each provider and in the event of an overclaim, you will be expected to pay for childcare by private arrangement.

Two Year Old Entitlement

Please be aware that recipients of Two Year Old Entitlement (those who apply through Bristol City Council) can only claim funding with one provider, as stipulated by the Council.

Once you have identified that you are eligible for funding by emailing family.services@bs3community.org.uk we will ask you to complete some paperwork for Bristol City Council.

You will be required to agree to the Council’s terms and conditions and to sign to allow BS3 Community to claim an agreed number of hours on your behalf. Once you have completed and signed this form, you will be required to return it to BS3 Community along with a copy of your child’s ID (birth certificate or passport).

BS3 Community will then be authorised to put in the funding claim with Bristol City Council and the funding will be paid directly to the nursery. Any invoices that you receive from us from the first full term after your child is eligible for the funding, will show your child’s funded hours as zero charges on your bill.

We are able to submit mid-term funding claims to Bristol City Council where your previous provider has agreed to release the remainder of your child’s funding for the current term. We will require written confirmation, including a date to swap your funding over from your current provider to facilitate this change. Should your current provider decline to release your child’s funding, you will have the option to pay privately for your child to start with us until their funding is transferred.

EYPP is an extra pot of funding available to children from families who are struggling financially to support their early education to the same level as their peers from working families. This funding is paid directly to your provision to support with costs associated with trips, clothing etc.

Please note that we are unable to check your eligibility for EYPP unless you indicate that you allow us to do so on your funding form. EYPP cannot be used to pay for additional hours but can be used to cover consumables costs.

BS3 Community can support families who may be in receipt of Two Year Old Funding Eligibility to apply for this with the Council

If you need support to complete this process, you can make an appointment to come in and fill in the online form with a member of our team.

Families who are entitled to universal funding from the first full term after their child turns three do not need to apply for the funding.

This paperwork will be automatically sent to you by a member of our Family Services team.

Families who are entitled to expanded Working Family Funding for children over nine months, two years and three years are required to apply for their funding code independently.

This is because all parents earning the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum Wage and no more than £100,000 each will be eligible, and so must submit their employment details to HMRC.

It will be your responsibility to apply for an eligibility code at www.childcarechoices.gov.ukwe will not be able to do this for you. It is also your responsibility to identify yourself to us as being in receipt of this funding – we will not be notified by the Council that you are eligible.

We can, however, support all families in completing their funding paperwork. If you need support, please email family.services@bs3community.org.uk to make an appointment with us.