Childcare changes will not benefit NRPF families

23​ May 2017 

30 h​ours free childcare for 3 to 4 year olds unavailable to parents with NRPF

The government recently announced that from September 2017, it would be extending the entitlement to free childcare for three to four year olds to 30 hours per week where a parent is working. 

In England, all children of age three and four are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare or early education each year, which must be taken over at least 38 weeks, for example, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. This can be provided to children in households where the parent or parents have no recourse to public funds (NRPF​). Government funded childcare is not a 'public fund​' for immigration purposes, so a parent with NRPF is not prevented from applying for this due to having the NRPF condition and there are no eligibility requirements related to the parent's immigration status.

From September 2017, parents who are working and earning on average at least £120 per week will be able to apply for an additional 570 hours of free childcare each year. Children may also be eligible if a parent is on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or unable to work due to a disability or caring responsibilities. A parent who has leave to remain with the NRPF condition will not be eligible for this additional childcare. However if they have a partner who is entitled to apply and who has recourse to public funds then they may make the application instead. This is not immediately clear in some of the government information about free childcare but is confirmed in this document​ setting out eligibility for 30 hours childcare. 

However, it appears that a parent who has a derivative right to reside under European law because they are the primary carer of a British child (Zambrano carer) will be able to apply for the extended childcare because the Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) Regulations 2016​, which set out who is eligible, only exclude non-EEA national parents who are 'subject to immigration control', i.e. parents who either have leave to remain with NRPF or have no current immigration permission.

This restriction also applies to the government's new tax-free childcare scheme, which is available nationally to working parents earning on average at least £120 per week who have children under 12 (or disabled children under 17) but will not be available to a person with NRPF. This will replace Employer Supported Childcare (child care vouchers), which people with NRPF may have been able to access through their employer. 

There have been no changes to the free childcare that is available in England for two year old children, which many NRPF families are unable to access because eligibility is generally linked to the parent being in receipt of certain welfare benefits that cannot be claimed by people with NRPF. 

Local authorities often provide housing and financial assistance to safeguard the welfare of children in families where the parent, who is unable to access tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, does not earn enough from employment to cover the family's housing and basic living costs. Lack of affordable childcare is often the key factor preventing the parent from being able to increase their working hours or take up employment in the first place, particularly in single parent families. Excluding families where the parent has leave to remain with NRPF from being able to benefit from the extended childcare provision will mean that employment is rarely going to be a sustainable long term solution to the family's destitution.

Local authorities approached for support by families in this position can complete our web tool to find out what considerations need to be made if social services' support is requested:

We set out the full detail of each childcare scheme here:

Government information and legislation:

Back to latest news​​​​​​​​​