Nursery Education Grants (NEG)

NEG for two-year-olds

Some children aged two-years-old are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare provision per week.

To qualify you must be getting one of the following:

  • income support or income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit and have an annual income not over £16,190
  • Working Tax Credits and earn no more than £16,190 a year
  • the Working Tax Credit four-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Children are also entitled to a place if:

  • the child has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
  • the child receives Disability Living Allowance
  • the child is looked after or in care
  • they've left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or residence order.

More information

NEG for three and four-year-olds

Also known as 'free early years' education' or the '15 free hours' scheme', this grant entitles all three and four-year-olds to 15 hours of free early education each week for 38 weeks of the year (equivalent to school term time).

The entitlement starts from the beginning of the school term immediately following the child's third birthday and continues until the end of the school term before they are eligible to start primary school. For example, if your child turns three in February, their entitlement would start from the beginning of the summer term in April.

You can use this funding at most private day nurseries, pre-schools, children's centres or with some childminders - please check to make sure they accept the funding before you enrol.

Using your 15 hours

A child is usually offered five sessions of education a week throughout the school year, typically 9am to 12noon. However different education providers may offer slightly different patterns of sessions and you may be able to use your 15 hours in fewer sessions per week.

Children do not have to have pre-school education and as a parent you can decide whether you think your child will benefit or not.

Funding is provided to cover the cost of a part-time place and parents have the option to additionally fund extra hours themselves.

From September the free entitlement to education is expanding to 30 hours for working families. You can find out more here.