Within the United Kingdom childcare is a devolved responsibility, and the statutory entitlement to free childcare for UK residents (including Service personnel and their dependants) may vary depending on where they are stationed within the UK.
All Service personnel and their dependants are currently able to access the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Childcare Voucher Scheme which enables its recipients to make a dual couple saving of up to £1,866 per year. When this scheme closes to new members in October 2018, those Service personnel wishing to benefit from Income Tax and NI savings (who were not claiming before October 2018) will be eligible to join the new Government Tax Free Childcare Scheme.
In addition to the universal entitlement to 15 hours of free early education and childcare for children from the term after their third birthday, some English local authorities offer free hours of Ofsted registered childcare targeted to Service personnel with children aged two.
A significant number of nurseries are accommodated on the Defence estate at military bases aimed principally at ensuring nursery provision for Service personnel based at the location concerned. Such nurseries are not operated by Defence but are provided so that personnel have provision close to their place of work and close to their homes when accommodated in Service Families Accommodation. The provision may offer an array of benefits to Service personnel ranging from priority placement to preferential rates.
In those overseas locations where Service personnel, entitled civilians and their dependants have no statutory entitlement to access host nation provision, the MOD has committed to mirror as far as is reasonably practicable the statutory provision that would have been available in England. Where MOD-provided overseas childcare facilities have sufficient capacity, the 15 hours (universal) and 30 hours entitlement (for eligible working parents) for three and four-year old children will be provided free of charge. In overseas locations where there are no MOD-provided childcare facilities, or such facilities lack sufficient capacity, the additional entitlement will be provided through the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance.