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Free Early Education - Do I have to pay anything?


The free entitlement must be entirely free at the point of delivery.  A free place may be made subject to the provider’s normal admissions criteria (other than financial criteria) but may not otherwise be refused to an eligible child. 


The parent’s choice whether to purchase any additional items or services should make no difference to their take up of free early education entitlement.


Providers MUST NOT:


  • Impose on parent’s conditions of access, i.e. additional childcare hours, meals to which they must agree in order to take up their free hours.  Providers can make a reasonable charge for meals provided to children during the day. 
    However, providers must ensure that they do not place any conditions of access on the entitlement including payment for meals.  Providers must give parents the option of providing a packed lunch if this option would be more affordable.

  • Charge parents in advance for free hours and refund the fees at a later date.

  • Charge top up fees (the difference between the provider’s normal hourly rate and the funding they receive from the Local Authority to deliver the free entitlement hours).

  • Charge top up fees for the funded hours for a child with a disability or special need.

  • Charge a registration fee or enforce the purchase of a uniform

Your 15 hours are totally free and you should not be asked to pay any costs towards it.  However if you need to use the setting for more than the funded 15 hours you should agree the charges for these directly with the setting, preferably before you register to take up the place. 


If children are attending additional hours to the free early education entitlement, then the setting is free to impose any charges that they usually apply, but these must be in line with the charges that the setting would normally charge.  They must not be inflated to cover any costs of providing the free nursery education


All statements or invoices (if your child attends for additional hours to their 15 hours free entitlement) from the setting must clearly show your 15 hours free entitlement and then the cost for any additional hours or services


The local authority is unable to dictate what a provider charges for any additional hours taken or services offered outside of the free entitlement.