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Government announces eight pilot areas for 30 hours free childcare

Today, Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah announced £13 million has been allocated to eight local authorities, to provide 30 hours free childcare a week for working families.

Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, York, Newham and Hertfordshire will start offering 30 hours of the early education entitlement from September this year.

Poll: How much do you know about the new entitlement?

Parents in these regions will be able to access free childcare for 3- and 4-year olds a year ahead of nationwide implementation in September 2017.

The move is aimed at supporting working parents. To qualify for the full 30 hours of free childcare, each parent (or the sole parent in a single parent family) will need to earn, on average, the equivalent of 16 hours on the national minimum wage per week (currently £107 per week), and no more than £100,000 per year.

Currently all 3- and 4- year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week.

In addition to the eight pilot areas, a further 25 areas[i] across six regions have been selected as ‘Early Innovators’. An extra £4million has been allocated to these areas to focus on potential issues surrounding accessing the 30 hours childcare, such as, flexibility, availability of places and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

It is not yet clear how the pilots will work, but if you are working within one of the pilot areas, we encourage you to get in touch with your local authority to ask how this might affect you.

We will keep you updated as soon as we know more. As plans progress, do let us know how it is operating in your area – email us at or share your views and experiences on our forum.

Liz Bayram, PACEY’s Chief Exec comments:

“We welcome the announcement on the pilot areas. It is vital that these pilots are used to test out how to ensure that the free funding reaches the frontline. They will also be good opportunity to look at removing the barriers which make it particularly difficult for childminders and smaller group settings to offer the funding, such as delayed payments and removing red tape.

“PACEY members will be central to the success of the government’s plans. That is why PACEY is calling for more support for childcare professionals through a workforce development strategy to help encourage new entrants into the sector as well as encouraging those already in the sector to progress their careers and feel confident about their future. Successful delivery of the free entitlement will also depend upon settings working closely in partnership. Next month we will be bringing early years leaders across different settings together with the Minister to discuss how this might work in practice. We will be closely following the progress of the pilot areas with interest and encourage our members to get in touch with us to let us know how it is working in their local area so we can feedback to government.” 

How much have you heard from your local authority about the 30 hours free entitlement?

[i] Early Innovator areas include: Stockport, Bolton, Trafford, Cheshire West & Chester, Bury, Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City, Walsall, Cornwall, Hampshire, West Sussex, Medway, East Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Kingston & Richmond, Barking & Dagenham, Islington, Ealing, Hillingdon, Gateshead, Bradford, Sheffield, Eastriding, Wakefield and North Yorkshire.