30 Hours and Tax-Free Childcare: What's the difference?

30 Hours and Tax-Free Childcare are two ways of paying for childcare. They can be used together if you are eligible for both, or separately if not.

Below is an overview of the differences between the two schemes and eligibility criteria. 

30 Hours Childcare

Tax-Free Childcare

Ages covered: 3 and 4-year-olds 

30 Hours refers to 30 hours of funded childcare for each of the 38 weeks of the academic year. Parents can choose to stretch this offer to 45, 47, or 51 weeks of the year to meet their childcare needs (taking fewer hours per week but for more weeks)


Ages covered: Children under 12 

Tax-Free Childcare is an online account where for every £8 parents pay into these accounts, the Government will add £2 to help pay for childcare. Parents could get a Government contribution of up to £2,000 per child, per year, or £4,000 for disabled children


Eligibility: earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage


Eligibility: earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage


30 Hours can be used at participating Nurseries and nursery classes, Playgroups and pre-school, Childminders, and Family Centres


Tax-Free Childcare can be used at: Registered childminders, nurseries and nannies, Registered after-school clubs and play schemes, Registered schools, Home care workers working for a registered home care agency