All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education for 38 weeks of the year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday). Free nursery education can take place in nurseries, playgroups, preschools or at their childminders.
My wife owned and ran a Nursery School and DayCare Centre for 15 years and the parents of her children fell into two basic groups. The first were career oriented where both husband and wife (or partner) worked to give themselves a higher standard of living and had the child(ren) in care for the 5 days of the working week. They took advantage of the free hours (paid for by us taxpayers) but supplemented it with the money they earned from their jobs and considered it just another expense that needed to be paid for their way of life.
The second group were those who used only the free hours to have their child in care and used it either so that they could have some leisure time, or so that they could do some paid part time work. Some mixed and matched the free hours with family care so that they could work full time.
In all those years I never came across a set of parents where the cost of childcare was evenly balanced with the wages received by going out to pay for it. We sold the Nursery School some 4 years ago now so perhaps things have changed, certainly the fees have increased considerably but then so has the minimum wage which is the amount the majority of nursery school teachers receive.