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Applying for free 12.5 hours nursery care?

(41 Posts)
MrClaypole Tue 24-Aug-10 19:09:45

MY DS was 3 in May this year so qualifies for a free 12.5 hours of nursery care (nursery education grant). As he's in a private nursery 3 full days a week, the owner told me that she knocks 12.5 hours off my bill for 30 hours per week.

Well today I got my September bill- we pay in advance- and she hasn't taken any money off. She told me that this is because she can only APPLY for DS's grant in September, and as our local authority is slow to process applications, it could be months before I get any reduction in my bill.

Can any nursery owners or staff tell me:
1) Is it true that the grant can only be applied for on the date my DS becomes eligible?
2) Will the government have to backdate the grant to 1st sept when it does arrive?

Bit concerned as I went back to work on the bloody proviso that my childcare costs would drop from sept - as it stands I'm losing money by working LOL!

llareggub Tue 24-Aug-10 19:12:16

I'm not sure of the detail but the free provision doesn't happen automatically when the child turns 3, but usually the term after. I'm pretty sure we get 15 hours from September.

MrClaypole Tue 24-Aug-10 19:30:51

Thanks llaregub. He definately does qualify from 1st Sept as he was 3 in May.

lovelylemon Thu 26-Aug-10 15:30:25

its actually 15 hours per week from sept! make sure you get it x

TheFallenMadonna Thu 26-Aug-10 15:35:19

The grant will cover the term from Septemnber, but won't be paid in September, if that makes sense. And it only covers a maximum number of weeks in any term. So if she isn't taking it off in September, it should come off subsequent terms bills, and the full provision for the term should be taken off.

jetgirl Thu 26-Aug-10 15:42:35

When my dd turned 3 in august, September 's bill was cheaper IIRC, it was a couple of years ago though. It's term-time ony, it won't include half term and other school holidays so your bill will be different in months when there are school holidays.

The fallen madonna - why would it not be paid in September?

elphabaisgreen Thu 26-Aug-10 15:45:54

I remember that I had to sign a form in the September (I had already paid the bill in advance) and the amount of the grant was kjnocked off the following bills.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 26-Aug-10 15:48:06

Because, unless things have changed from when I did the admin for this, the setting collects the declarations and makes the application in September for the Autumn term, and then you get two payments: one around half term and one towards the end of term.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 26-Aug-10 15:49:59

We didn't charge aprents when their children were eligible for funding, but we were a pre school offering sessional care, and we had enough reserves to keep things going until we got the payment.

jetgirl Thu 26-Aug-10 16:26:46

Thanks, I had assumed that the nursery would be gucen the money monthly as I pay my bills monthly, but 1 payment each half term makes sense. Our nursery has never passed on the charge and then reduced following months payments accordingly, I guess because they knew they would be getting the money from the council anyhow just at a later date. I suppose it could depend on the council too.

SurreyDad Sat 28-Aug-10 03:03:54

The nursery is not allowed to charge parents whilst awaiting the money from the local authority. Also, from this September, they are not allowed to show the funding on invoices, as they do not want people to know how much it costs. Nurseries could also use this to their advantage by confusing parents as to how much they should or shouldn't be paying. FYI, it is £4.03 per hour, 15 hours a week for 14 weeks for the Autumn term. A sensible nursery will simply take this £846.30 for each elegable child and divide it by 4 to give you a discount of £211.57 per month from September to December. So check your childcare providers are charging you properly! Spring and Summer terms 2011 are only 12 weeks long.

jetgirl Sun 29-Aug-10 17:18:42

That's good to know surreydad. Our one has always been upfront about the costs and we know it's different in the months holidays fall. Lots of parents just use the funded hours so I suppose it's easier to do every invoice in the same way.

lindsR Thu 02-Sep-10 11:17:12

Jetgirl - be aware everything has changed as of 1 Sept. The entitlement is as follows:

Up to 15 hrs/ 38 weeks a year. How many actual hrs you are entitled to will depend on what sessions your child does at the nursery. For private nurseries they have to state which sessions (i.e. fixed hrs e.g. 10-12, 13:00 - 16:00) they are setting as funded ones. If your child does part time then even if they are attending more than 15 hrs they might not be attending the funded sessions so ask your nursery which ones they are setting out as the funded ones.

Previously many private nurserys have worked on the practice of taking the money they get from the council for those funded hours and have just deducted it from your overall bill - this is no longer legal from 1 Sept. The problem with this is in the levels of funding the local authorities are giving to the nurseries. Whilst the government claims they are providing 15 free hours for each child, they are not actually funding it and are now expecting the privately owned nurseries to make up the shortfall.

There is also a difference in the way that government supported pre-schools and private nurseries are funded. The pre-schools are funded for a set number of pupils regardless of how many are actually in attendance (e.g. may be funded for 10 pupils but only actually have 5 meaning the money will stretch much further). For private nurseries currently they work on a headcount 3 times a year - the nursery is only paid per term for each child actually present on each of the 3 term headcounts. As of next year they will be chaning this to a single head count in the spring which will further disadvantage the nurseries as a nursery may e.g. have 10 eligible children then which they will recieve the funding for, but by the September term there may be another 5 children now eligible that they won't recieve any money for until the following year.

For example where I live (Windsor & Maidenhead Borough) they only give the nurseries £3.63/hr which does not even cover staffing costs let alone facilities, equipment, activities etc. Previously the nurseries were able to just take that money and get you to top up the difference, now they are not allowed to do this which leaves them with a huge short fall in funding over the year (for the nursery my children attend it will be nearly £30,000). This would obviously bankrupt the nursery if they tried to suck it up themselves so they are now forced to take the decision to remove themselves from the funding scheme (there is no legal obligation for private nurseries to take part in the scheme).

If you have not seen any deduction from your September bill then it may be that your childs nursery has decided to withdraw from the scheme as a result of this shortfall.

The amount of funding provided to the private nurseries varies depending on the borough you are in. Some well funded boroughs have been paying as much as £5.80/hr to the nurseries which is a much more sustainable rate - others such as Windsor and Maidenhead are paying an unsustainable pittance (£3.63). The amount they pay will depend on a number of factors - how much funding they get from the government, how much money they want to keep back for their own administration, budget contingency etc.

The nursery which my children attend held a crisis meeting last night to discuss all this - from discussions they have had with the childrens information service it seems that many other nurseries are as yet unaware of the legal implications of the legislation changes and they expect chaos over the next few weeks as they start to realise what has happened (in our area there has been no official notification of these changes from the borough to the nurseries - the owner of my childrens nursery only became aware of the situation because of her own reading up of the legislation. The net result of these changes is that many private nurseries will either pull out of the scheme altogether, put up prices across the board to make up the losses (which will disadvantage those paying fees for chilren not eligible for the free hours) or will go bankrupt trying to operate underfunded.

I would reccomend having a look at this website which can give some more information:

jetgirl Fri 03-Sep-10 13:24:12

The nursery I use is one in a chain so I assume they are aware of the laws but as I am on the parents group I will check. My son is 3 in November so will qualify from January for the funded hours. The once s year headcount sounds extremely unfair. Thanks for the link I will check it out.

dribbleface Fri 03-Sep-10 15:00:37

bear in mind the figures qouted by surreydad are for his local authority only, ours is £3.90 per hour in essex for nurseries and less for pre-schools

jaabaar Mon 25-Oct-10 16:20:10

When your child qualifies for a free place
The table below shows when your child will become eligible for their free early learning place.

If your child is born between:
They are eligible for a free place from:

1 April and 31 August
1 September following their third birthday until statutory school age

1 September and 31 December
1 January following their third birthday until statutory school age

1 January and 31 March
1 April following their third birthday until statutory school age

toomanyprojects Tue 26-Oct-10 09:18:17

We have a choice in Northants of which parent contract to sign:

you can have 15 hrs a week over 38 weeks
11 hours a week over 52 weeks

You can access hrs at more than one setting but only on the same contract.

Our funding is £3.70 per hr but is dropping to £3.52 from April as deprived areas are to get more.

noko Sat 30-Oct-10 03:23:07

Nice to join this subject. i was just wondering how long does it take from signing the form and the government starting to pay your provider?
because i signed mine in september and i'm still paying the full amount but by next week it'll become impossible for me.

toomanyprojects Sat 30-Oct-10 19:02:02

Well our County Council pays each term in two installments. We do a best guess in the July which results in a cheques of the first half at the beginning of Sept. Then in Sept we input the actual figures who have registered and the second cheque is adjusted accordingly (ie if the figures stay the same we would get two cheques of the same amount.)

Our second payment which takes us up to the end of term arrived. If we didn't do the advanced guess (we don't have to but it helps with cash flow!) we would get one payment at the same time of the second. Your settings should therefore have the money by next week if your County Council processes to the same speed as ours.

noko Fri 05-Nov-10 21:32:24

hi toomayprojects. i contacted the nursery on monday and they told me that the council only give £500. I pay £671 per month, so this month they said i had to pay only 167 to cover the full amount. but the next i will restart pay £671.
i always thought that hte free 15 hours was for the all year round and not just one month. i'm confused.

noko Fri 05-Nov-10 21:34:20

sorry it is next month,

toomanyprojects Sun 07-Nov-10 14:02:55


if you are signed up for the term time only contract - it is 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. Councils vary as to how much they pay per hour - here it is £3.70 but going down to £2.52 in April 2011 when they change the way it is paid.

So your setting will get 15 x 38 x their amount over a year. Here that is split into 3 funding periods - each of which is divided into 2 payments. The settings should be making their invoices clear as to how they are arriving at the total.

toomanyprojects Sun 07-Nov-10 14:08:11

Sorry going down to £3.52 in April...

MrToad Fri 19-Nov-10 22:49:44

Ugh, am also still waiting for my DS' funding to come through, he was eligible for his 15 hours in Sept.

Nursery have said that the funding usually comes through after Xmas and they will knock the amount they receive off my january bill.

I wish the nursery had been honest with me, they told me I'd get "15 hours free childcare a week" but in actual fact I get a small contribution because my council pay only a few quid towards the cost of 15 hours childcare! If I'd known I would have sent DS to the local preschool and got a childminer to look after him while I'm at work.

milly44 Fri 26-Nov-10 13:51:30

Unfortunately this government policy is totally confusing parents. It is not free childcare as nurseries do not get the funding required to cover their costs. In most cases (especially in London) it is a wise business move to not take a free entitlement child as they make a loss on each qualifying child thus putting their private businesses at risk of closure. Parents who demand their 'free' place without understanding the implications for nurseries will just push more nurseries into withdrawing from the scheme (it is not compulsory for us to join - we would like to remain within the scheme is it is a welcome subsidy for our parents). This underfunded scheme never used to be called 'free'. It was a grant given to those parents most in need of it! Check out the new campaign under free childcare launched by the early years childcare group. Parents are only now beginning to realise that the government are not giving away free childcare - it is the nurseries who are subsidising it to the tune of 40% in my London area. Parents who are unhappy with receiving a reduced bill for their childcare should count themselves lucky that their childcare provider hasn't yet withdrawn from the scheme altogether and then charge you fully private fees.

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