Nursery changing the goalposts re:free hours for 3 years olds.

(31 Posts)
Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 18:17:05

When my son started nursery last year I checked with the nursery about the free hours and was told that I could take them over 2 days rather than spread out over the week. So 1 and a half days were funded and I would pay for half a day. This appealed to me as I didn't want my son to do a couple of hours each day.

Now the nursery are saying there has been an audit and the council have changed the parameters and the hours should have been spread across 3 days and I am liable for a certain amount of money which runs in to the hundreds of pounds.

Surely this is the nursery's error? I don't want any bad feeling but I am reluctant to pay them. If I had known this I would have used a different preschool and spread the hours out, I was only going along with their advice.

Is this legal? Isn't this an issue between the nursery and the council?

Any advice much appreciated.

Sirzy Wed 05-Dec-12 18:18:46

As far as I am aware to take the full 15 hours it has to be spread over 3 days at least. If its only over 2 days the maximum which can be used is the equivalent to 12

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 18:22:31

Thanks, so do you think the nursery at fault for telling me that it was fine over 2 days or should I have known otherwise?! I guess I just have to suck it up, pay up and be more careful in future.

SherbetDibDab Wed 05-Dec-12 18:27:34

Different authorities have different rules, I would contact your council and explain the situation, the nursery should be able to give you a contact. Did you attend 52 weeks a year, that could increase the hours you to whic you were entitled. Again this all depends on the individual council.
But I think whether you pay the nursery is a legal issue, I don't think it's right to pass the problem over to you.

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 18:47:34

Thanks Sherbet, if different councils have different rules then I would assume the onus is on the nursery to make sure they are complying rather than the parent?

He went every week but only for 2 days per week.

Will contact the council and see what they say. Don't want to get the nursery in to trouble but I did not budget for extra Childcare bills at this time of year.

fledtoscotland Wed 05-Dec-12 19:16:09

My understanding is that it has to be 5 sessions so if a morning is one session and an afternoon another, he has to be in a minimum of 2.5days to get the full 15hrs.

This is the way it works for us. I usually don't bother with the single afternoon session as its in the way of school runs but it's there if I need it.

baublesandbaileys Wed 05-Dec-12 19:18:56

we're not allowed to condense it, it has to be taken by half sessions not double sessions

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 19:21:29

Thanks Fledtoscotland. It is confusing. I changed him recently to 3 mornings, 5 hours each, so not sure if this is even covered? Don't want this to happen again so I will have to speak to the council.

I guess the issue is if the nursery say it is fine, can they turn around a year down the line and say no it wasn't fine and charge me for the backdated year? Not sure legally who is at fault.

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 19:24:33

Baubles, was this something you found out yourself or did your nursery make this clear? Thanks.

baublesandbaileys Wed 05-Dec-12 19:28:37

think we found out ourselves, it means we don't claim all our hours but we do pay to top up the days as lots of short days are no good to us and we need a couple of long days for work, so even though we are underclaiming we are paying more than if we did more days IYKWIM

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 19:56:53

Ok thanks. I did check with the nursery and they said it was fine to condense it all together. So not sure if they are able to turn around a year later and say it is not? Am just wondering where the liability is; parents or the nursery.

nannynick Wed 05-Dec-12 20:07:35

Some councils publish the EYEE funding rules on their website, sometimes in something called a Provider Guide.

I feel the nursery are at fault as they incorrectly advised you and incorrectly claimed on your behalf.

Contact the council early years department and see if they can help clarify the position with regard to funding this term, next term and summer term.

baublesandbaileys Wed 05-Dec-12 20:25:37

if the nursery gave you misleading info then that is wrong, but by "liable" if you mean who will have to pay, then I'd say its you I don't think you'll still get the longer days for free

gallicgirl Wed 05-Dec-12 20:41:13

You should talk to your MP too. If government is serious about getting parents into work, then they've got to be more flexible with child care.

Mandy21 Wed 05-Dec-12 20:47:58

I think if you were told you would be paying for half a day, then that is all they can ask you to pay - but you have to be clear on what you were told. If things have changed going forward, then they can tell you what future charges you'll incur (presumably with the option then of you going elsewhere) but they shouldn't be backdating it.

mercibucket Wed 05-Dec-12 20:51:11

I can't see how they can backdate it tbh. They can ask but I would just say no. Do you have legal advice on your house insurance?

mercibucket Wed 05-Dec-12 20:51:11

I can't see how they can backdate it tbh. They can ask but I would just say no. Do you have legal advice on your house insurance?

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 21:22:30

Thanks all. Yes that is what I had the issue with, the backdating. I have actually changed the hours recently to 3 mornings so now it is fine but they are backdating it to Spring/Summer last year. They claim that the council have changed their criteria, have done an audit and they won't get the funding they thought and therefore want the shortfall off me.

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 21:25:42

Will check if we have legal advice on the home insurance, I am not sure we have.

I think a few other parents are affected, I can't see everyone paying up, the nursery have just given out wrong information I guess and I now trying to claw back funding that they won't be getting.

baublesandbaileys Wed 05-Dec-12 21:26:21

well that doesn't sound right at all! I'd be suspicious and ask for a break down on paper of exactly what they have claimed and received for you so you can take that to the local office

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 21:30:24

Yeah I am suspicious! I'm just worried the council may say I should have checked and not taken the nursery's word for it and I may end up being liable for more!

LucyLastik Wed 05-Dec-12 21:32:00

At the preschool I previously worked in, we offered flexible entitlement which meant parents could claim their 15 hours over 5 days or 2.5 days. It is the same in the school nursery I now work in, the majority do their 15 hours over 5 mornings or afternoons but one child claims them over 2.5 days. There are strict rules on how NEF is applied so I would second the advice about contacting your local EY dept.

Delatron Wed 05-Dec-12 21:37:07

Thanks Lucy, I am sure they gave me the wrong information and are trying to cover their backs now. It doesn't seem as though any nursery/preschool can offer the hours over just 2 consecuctive days. I just don't know why they told me it would be fine though? Maybe they thought the council wouldn't check.

Will check if my 3 morning sessions are covered as I don't want this happening again.

Arion Thu 06-Dec-12 02:01:32

They gave you wrong information, my dd qualified for her nursery place Jan 11 and it was the case then that you had to split over different sessions. I think your mornings still won't work as it needs to be 5 sessions of 3 hours (so 5 mornings, 5 afternoons or two days and a half day). They shouldn't be able to backdate, we had awful trouble with ours and they wiped off about a thousand pounds they said we owed 'as a gesture of goodwill' but basically they'd fucked up on what they'd told us!
Your council will have a section dedicated to early years and they should be able to help (ours were brilliant but nursery HQ took months to arrange the meetings hence the large bill!)

One v important point is you only get funding for 38 weeks (same as school terms). If you want your dc in every week you will be liable for the additional weeks. If you don't want to pay, the nursery should be able to offer term time places (so you basically keep them off on holiday weeks). The funded nursery place has to be "free at the point of access" so they can't put barriers in place that mean you have to pay ie deposit, no option for term time place.

BellaOfTheBalls Thu 06-Dec-12 02:25:32

Agree with Arion re the hours over the year. Nursery funding covers term time only so if your DC has been every week regardless of half terms/school holidays etc then unfortunately you will probably be liable for those hours.

It does vary from education authority to education authority and nurseries themselves can AFAIK make certain requests as to what days or pattern these fall into. For instance; DS1's original Playgroup was open 9-2 4x a week, he could do all his funded hours there over 3 days but only if I paid for the fourth day. His nursery in a different area following our move said he had to do his hours over a minimum of 3 days.

Its a tricky one and I would ring your LEA for advice in the first instance as they may be able to advise both you and the nursery. It doesn't sound like the nursery are actually dealing with the situation in the right way at all. Would definitely look to see if you have legal advice on your house insurance or perhaps speak to CAB. If you look at it from the nursery perspective; if they have not followed the protocols it may be that they do not receive any of the funding money for your DC and are therefore running the risk of a massive financial loss. That's obviously not your fault but I suspect they might be hoping you'll blindly say "I'm so sorry, who do I make the cheque out to"

Good luck OP!

Delatron Thu 06-Dec-12 08:35:20

Thanks Arion and Bella. Yes I knew I had to pay for holidays so that is all up to date. Will definitely speak to the council and make sure I can do my 3 mornings. But if as you say Bella nurseries can make special requests then I guess the onus is on the nursery to tell me what they have agreed with the council? I will need to get it in writing so that this doesn't happen again.

It is exactly as you say, the nursery have messed up and will not get the funding they thought for a number of children. This will have financial implications for them and I do feel a bit sorry for them. I don't know if I just offer to pay half. They must be expecting parents to kick up a bit of a fuss. I just don't like confrontation and bad feeling!

HSMM Thu 06-Dec-12 08:53:26

It used to be 15 hrs per week, but if a child only attended 2 days it was a max of 12.5 hrs. It has changed now. It is the nursery's fault, not yours. They told you what you needed to pay and now they are changing their minds ... you might have a case for not paying, as it was their mistake, not yours.

5madthings Thu 06-Dec-12 08:59:02

My ds4 attended pre-school last year he did two days of 7 hrs each day and we didnt have to pay abythinh as it was his 15 free hrs. When did they change the guidlines? This will affect me with dd. I would far rather she does two full days as pre-school is half hr wall each way and the half days are a pita logisticslly with school runs.

I dont see how thry can backdate it and ultimately they gave you the wrong information so its their error?

Delatron Thu 06-Dec-12 09:21:13

I think the consensus is that it is their error and I guess they are trying to recoup the lack of funding they will get. The manager explained it in a very confusing way, saying that the council had changed the rules etc but that just doesn't make sense.

I think once an invoice is issued and paid then you can't really go back a year later and claim more money?! Not the best time of year to be issued with extra Childcare costs either. Thanks everyone, I think the nursery are just trying it on and they are just going to have to absorb the costs themselves. They gave out the wrong information and if I had known I would not recieve the full funding I would have put him in for different hours.

Mandy21 Thu 06-Dec-12 10:26:32

Just to second that it varies from area to area - in my LEA you can have all of the 15 hours entitlement at a private nursery if you do 2 full days, but you can't have a term time only place in a private nursery.

Delatron Thu 06-Dec-12 10:49:07

God it varies so much. Seems the onus is very much on the nursery then to make sure they know what the council are offering.

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