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Free Nursery Entitlement

Free Nursery Entitlement for 2 year olds

What is it?

Some 2 year old children are entitled to receive free nursery sessions. These can be taken in a school nursery who delivers 2 year old provision or with an approved day nursery or childminder.

Free Nursery Entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds

All three and four year old children are entitled to receive free nursery sessions. These can be taken in a school nursery or with an approved day nursery or childminder.

What is my child entitled to? (2, 3 and 4 year olds)

Your child is entitled to receive 570 hours free nursery education per year. This equates to a maximum of 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per year (term time only) or 11.5 hours over 50 weeks. You do not have to take up the full entitlement however you are encouraged to do so. 

Do I have to attend a session every day? (2, 3 and 4 year olds)

No, settings and schools have been required to offer the free nursery entitlement more flexibly. The offer of 570 hours can be stretched over a longer period of time but less hours per week will be available free. For examples of how this may be taken please consult your provider or call Kim Rowntree on 01429 284881

When will my child become eligible for a free 2 year old place?

National guidelines dictate the following: 

A child born between: Will be eligible for a free place from:
1st April - 31st August The start of the autumn term following their 2nd or 3rd birthday until statutory school age (September)
1st Sept - 31st Dec The start of the spring term following their 2nd or 3rd birthday until statutory school age (January)
1st Jan -  31st March The start of the summer term following their 2nd or 3rd birthday until statutory school age (April) 







Can my child attend more than one setting?

Yes, 2 settings can be used, however we would encourage that your child stays with one provider as far as possible as it is important for the child to have consistency and stability.

How will the places be funded?

The places will be funded by the Local Authority with payment made directly to the provider. If your child takes less than 15 hours per week, the payment will be adjusted pro-rota. 

A parent is not expected to contribute towards the costs of their free entitlement, it should be free at the point of delivery. A child's free entitlement however does not cover any additional services that the setting may offer e.g. extra hours or transport, you will need to speak with your provider to discuss any charges for this.

Will the nursery session(s) my child receives be of good quality?

Yes, providers offering the free nursery entitlement must be registered with Ofsted. Being registered means tat the provider must comply with the requirements of The Department of Educations' Code of Practice on the Provision of Free Nursery Education Places for Three and Four Year Olds. The provider will be subject to an inspection by OFSTED, the organisation which also inspects schools to make sure that the child is being educated appropriately. Local Authority staff work closely with settings to develop and enhance the learning environment and experience for your child.

How can I apply?

To apply for your child's free nursery entitlement contact the school/nursery or childminder you are interested in your child attending. They will let you know if they are a registered provider and if so, when your child can take advantage of this entitlement. 

If you do not have a provider in mind, contact Kim Rowntree on 01429 284881 where a list of registered providers is available.

Please note that the free nursery entitlement is not a guarantee of placement with a particular provider, it is a guarantee that a free place will be available for your child in Hartlepool. 

The Local Authority will carry out checks as part of their remit to ensure that a child is not claiming more than their full entitlement.

For further information contact:

Kim Rowntree
Hartlepool Borough Council
Brierton Lane
TS25 4AF

Direct Line: 01429 284881

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is paid to people in work to top up low wages. This includes earnings from employment and earnings if you are self-employed.

  • Working Tax Credit is being replaced by Universal Credit.
  • You cannot get Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit at the same time.
  • You must use an Ofsted registered Childcare provider such as Childminder, play scheme, nursery or school.

Eligibility for Childcare element of Working Tax Credit

  • If you are a single parent, you must work for a minimum of 16 hours a week
  • If you are part of a couple, both of you must work a minimum of 16 hours a week each.
  • You can receive up to 70% of your childcare costs covered up to £122.50 per week for one child attending a registered provider or £210 for two or more children.

Please visit to compare the support you may receive and to confirm which option you may be eligible for.

How much you earn

Your eligibility depends on:

  • If you are working
  • How much you earn
  • Your child's circumstances
  • Your nationality

You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, Tax Credits or Tax-Free Childcare.

If you are working

You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are:

  • In work
  • On sick leave or annual leave
  • On parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave

If you're on parental leave, you cannot apply for the child you're on leave for.

If you are not currently working

  • You may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
  • You can apply if you're starting or re-starting work iwthin the next 31 days.

How much you earn

  • You'll need to expect to earn a certain amount over the next 3 months. This is at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week on average. For example, over the next 3 months you expect to earn at least £1,707.68 - the National Living Wage for people over 25.
  • If you have a partner, they'll need to expect to earn at least this much too. 
  • If you're self employed and do not expect to make enough profit in the next 3 months, you can use an average of how much you expect to make over the current tax year. This earnings limit does not apply if you're self employed and started your business less than 12 months ago.
  • If you or your partner have an 'adjusted net income' over £100,000 in the current tax year you will not be eligible. This includes any bonuses you expect to get.
  • Your adjusted net income is your total taxable income before any personal allowances and minus things like Gift Aid.

Your partner

Your partner's employment and income will affect your eligibility if you are:

  • Married or in a civil partnership and live together
  • Not married or in civil partnership, but living together as though you are

Their employment and income will not affect your eligibility if they: 

  • Are or will be present from your household for more than 6 months
  • Are a prisoner

Your child

You will not be eligible if  your child does not usually live with you

If you foster your child, you cannot use the online application to get 30 hours free childcare. Speak to your Social Worker and your Local Authority if you want to apply.