Department for Education written question – answered on 29th November 2022.

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Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Chair, Backbench Business Committee, Chair, Backbench Business Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to expand the 30 hours of funded childcare for working parents to include income earned through PhD studies as a qualifying income.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department is not currently planning to extend the 30 hours of free childcare to include income earned through PhD studies. We recognise the value of parents continuing in education and provide a range of support for students in further or higher education to support them with childcare.

Students starting a doctoral degree on or after 1 August 2018 are eligible to receive a postgraduate doctoral loan to help with course fees and living costs, including childcare, which can be up to £27,892 for students starting their courses in the current academic year, 2022/23.

In addition to the above childcare support for doctoral students, all parents are eligible for the universal 15 hours of free early education which is available to every three and four-year-old, regardless of family circumstances.

Working parents of three and four-year-olds may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours of free childcare if they earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum or living wage and earn under £100,000 per year. Students who participate in paid work in addition to their studies and who meet the income requirements will be eligible for the additional hours.

Parents who meet these income criteria may also be able to receive support from Tax-Free Childcare, which can be worth up to £2,000 per year for children aged 0-11, or up to £4,000 per year for some disabled children aged 0-16.

Further information on the childcare offers available to parents can be found at:

The department remains committed to improving the cost, choice, and availability of childcare. We continue to look at ways to make childcare more affordable and to encourage families to use government-funded support they are entitled to.

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