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Increase in free childcare hours supports working parents in Essex

20 June 2017

Essex families are being encouraged to find out more about the impending increase in funded childcare hours for three and four-year olds and ensure, where eligible, they’re registered to receive the funding. 

Coming into effect from 1 September, many families across the county will benefit from the government’s new, extended entitlement policy, which is aimed at supporting eligible working parents who are looking to either support families with their childcare costs or increase their working hours.  

The flexible policy means not all of the additional hours have to be taken up and eligible families can make arrangements with childcare providers offering the additional hours, based on their individual needs.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education,  said, “Essex County Council is committed to helping the early years and childcare sector deliver the extended entitlement and supporting the government’s aims to make work pay for Essex families. 

“The benefits of an increase in funded childcare hours are clear, not just in terms of what it means for working parents, but also in terms of increased access to early learning opportunities for young children. 

“Good quality early learning supports young children to be happy, confident, sociable and curious, can prepare them to start school and can have a positive impact on their long-term development. 

“I’d encourage all families to check their eligibility and ensure they’re signed up to receive the funding as soon as possible.”

As with the existing 15 hours free entitlement for three and four-year olds, children whose parents meet the criteria, will become eligible for the additional 15 hours at the start of the school term after their third birthday. Parents of children who will be three on or before 31st August 2017 can apply now to access their free extended entitlement from September 2017.

If parents have not registered and do not have their eligibility code by 31 August 2017 they will not be able to access the additional hours until the start of the Spring term – January 2018.

Families are also able to claim tax-free childcare alongside the extended entitlement hours and can check their eligibility and apply for both schemes via applynow. A helpline is available by calling HMRC on 0300 123 4097

More information about the extended entitlement and other help available to support families with the cost of childcare, can be found at