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Making sense of the Nursery Education Grant

(14 Posts)
itshailingitspouring Tue 26-Oct-10 14:43:32

I'm trying to work out whether our (NFP) nursery is in any way compliant with the rules of the Nursery Education Grant - can someone help? Nursery is struggling financially, attempts are being made to turn it round, and we need to get our heads round what can be charged to which children.

Nursery offers full day care (8 hours) for about 48 weeks/year, for 2/3/4 year olds. There isn't really a half day option.

- Can children use up their full 15 hour entitlement over just 2 days? Or can only 2/5 or 4/5 of the entitlement be claimed?

- Given that we only offer full day care, I presume we can charge top-up fees for the additional (5) hours (?) on top of the daily 3 hours. How do we set a rate for those 5 (essentially compulsory) hours?

- Do we have to deduct at a 3/8 rate? Or can we just deduct the actual amount that we receive?

- How does it work with fee banding? We have a fee structure that means those on highest incomes pay lots more than those on lowest. Do we need to do a % deduction for all bands (ie the absolute subsidy appears a good deal greater for high-income parents), or can we do a fixed amount discount?

- Can we offer different terms to different parents, based on income brackets? So for top earners, a £x/session discount, and for lower earners genuinely free sessions?

If anyone can point me towards the official guidance on this I would be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!

itshailingitspouring Tue 26-Oct-10 16:09:55

OK, I am going to answer some of my own questions here, in the hope that it's helpful to others.

Guidance on the new setup is here.

It looks absolutely terrible. If it stands I can't see how independent provision of the free hours can continue in London.

It's also - to me, as a lay person - incomprehensible, it's littered with things the local authority MUST do, which are then just followed by things they SHOULD do.

The main problems seem to be that:

There is no way of combining compulsory full day care with the free provision.

There is no way of combining full year (or nearly full year) care with the free provision.

There is apparently no scope for offering different terms to parents at different income brackets

Somebody tell me I've got this all wrong.

Please!

itshailingitspouring Thu 28-Oct-10 11:16:51

Can anyone comment on this?

Is really complicated to understand...

Simbacat Thu 28-Oct-10 11:25:16

You need to read the revised code of practice (google it).

The 15 hours must be over 3 days in our la ( but one could be short).

Yes you can charge for the additional hours however a parent must be able to only have 15 hours free if they want. You cannot insist that they pay a top up amount everyday. For example they could access 2 days at 6 hours and one of 3 at no cost to them. You cannot have 5 compulsory extra hours per day.

You need to work in hours- not sessions or days. You set an additional hourly rate for everything over 15 hours.

Simbacat Thu 28-Oct-10 11:29:33

Do you live in London.

Do you have the single funding formula in place. In many las the pvi hourly rate increased when this came in. You will also usually attract more funding if you are in a deprived areas.

itshailingitspouring Thu 28-Oct-10 21:13:35

Thanks v much simba.

Have googled and looked at it, and found our borough's draft version. It's still about as clear as mud.

If there's no way round the whole day requirement I think we're done for. Who, after all, is ever going to want care from 3-5 in the afternoon, which is what'd be left after a 6 hour slot. Are we allowed to select children on the basis of the hours/days they'll commit to, or is that forbidden too?

Simbacat Thu 28-Oct-10 23:46:37

You can set a number of free places for eAch session. For example you may have 30 parents wanting Monday am but only 20 places. You could set the limit of free places as a percentage ofbthe total per session. This would have to be seen to be reasonable. For example if you have 24 places sayimgbonly 1 free placecwasxavaiable on Monday am would becseen ascunreasonabke but you could argue that saying 12 were available was reasonable. Parents would then select their 15 hours free in blocks (usually 3- 6 hour blocks but you could just have 3 hours) from the sessions available and pay for the rest. Some parents could have Monday 3-6 pm as one of their free sessions.

Simbacat Thu 28-Oct-10 23:47:38

Just to add some las may saybthe sessions have to fall within certain hours (say 9-3) but others don't.

itshailingitspouring Sun 31-Oct-10 21:13:40

thanks again simba, that's great.

just one more thing - we're open most of the time, so presumably we divide the 570 annual hours by the number of weeks we're open to work out how many weekly hours we can offer? we aren't required to offer 15 each week term time only, for example?

oh, and do you think we can offer different terms to parents in different income brackets (in general, more favourable to lower income)

onimolap Sun 31-Oct-10 21:27:46

I don't know if you can offer different terms to different people, but I don't think you should. Though I suppose you could set up a bursary type assistance scheme.

Why? Because you may put off some parents; even your higher-cost places would have to be competitive against other local establishments; it will be harder to predict your income stream; you could find yourself struggling if only low-income families applied; you will acquire significant administrative overhead in setting up an adequate means-testing and verification system; and your accounts/billing systems will be more complex.

Simbacat Sun 31-Oct-10 23:39:26

It depends on your la rules. Generally it is over 38 weeks minimum, some have a maximum and others may not.

itshailingitspouring Mon 01-Nov-10 12:30:54

take your point onimolap, but we already have a banded fee setup with (probably insufficient) verification so it probably wouldn't be any more of an admin nightmare than it already is.

and, tbh, even for the best off (ie those who pay most) we're WAY cheaper than anything else locally available for 2 yr olds. So competitiveness isn't going to be a problem.

KatyMac Mon 01-Nov-10 12:52:44

In answer to your title - you can't it's mad!

I can do
-no smaller than 2.5 hr sessions
-No more than 9 hrs a day
-No more than 12.5 hrs over 2 days
-No more than 15 hrs over 3 days

I am generally paid in advance but I can only claim it in arrears
I can claim it over 50 weeks but every time I do it gets questioned

It is a nightmare

milly44 Fri 03-Dec-10 23:03:37

Have a meeting with your local authority before you sign the new provider contracts! This is we what we did along with other local private full daycare providers. We are london based so the funding is almost half of our running costs! We are allowed to charge for additional services (french, drama, football, yoga etc), all meals and snacks plus all additional hours throughout the year as long as parents have been advised of these additional costs before signing up with us. The local authority have taken the word 'free' out of all parent and provider contracts and adjusted the wording as to make it clear (as mud!!) about the funding and the necessity for the parent to choose the correct setting. Speak to your local authority and get other nurseries in your area on board. Our LA didn't want us all to withdraw so were very helpful.

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