Free 15 hours - being charged £15 a week?

(54 Posts)
OnTheRoadToSomewhere Mon 04-Jan-21 19:18:57

My son just started nursery today. He's 3 and eligible for 15 free hours. So he's doing 3 afternoons a week 1 til 6, term times only. He had a cup of milk at 2pm and a light meal at 3pm. They changed his nappy at 3.30pm.

When I picked him up I was given a sheet of paper with everything he's done today and on the back was a bill. £15 a week/£60 a month?

I genuinely can't tell if I'm being stingy but we put him in for the free hours for a reason. We can't afford £60 a month on top of our bills. This wasn't explained to me at all during his settling in sessions nor when I went to look around and sort his application.

I'm looking back through documents I've been given and on the back of the one about funding it has in handwriting 'Full day £8.50, half day £5' with no context or anything.

I thought free meant free?? Am I being naive or dumb or was I lied to or what?

OP’s posts: |
Mmsnet101 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:20:59

Have you provided nappies etc for them to use? It might be they are applying a charge for this?

Aroundtheworldin80moves Mon 04-Jan-21 19:21:02

The education is free. Not the snacks etc.

Bobbiepin Mon 04-Jan-21 19:21:32

It's a meal supplement. The government funding doesn't cover the cost of what it takes to have your child. Ask the nursery to break down the costs, shouldnt be a problem but this should have been explained to you before.

Megan2018 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:22:28

It’s very normal for them to charge a fee for food and nappies on top but you should have been told this.

JustHereWithPopcorn Mon 04-Jan-21 19:23:29

This is normal. My nursery does the same

ivfbeenbusy Mon 04-Jan-21 19:23:46

Sounds like they are charging £5 per day for meals and nappies which I agree is a piss take.


Norah8 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:24:19

Someone will know for sure but my thought is you are using up maybe a half day space which someone paying would be paying £5 an hour for. Maybe that is 12 to 6????
Seems like a weird loophole to get more money.
Give them a phone and ask.
Are meals and snacks free?

happytoday73 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:25:54

Can you put them in a nursery attached to a school? Less hours but no extra payments

ivfbeenbusy Mon 04-Jan-21 19:30:47


I agree - I did think that as 1-6pm isn't a traditional 1/2 day time slot

Maybe change the slot to 5 mornings or afternoons per week - ie 3 hours per da hand that way shouldn't need feeding as you can do that before/after

GlitterBiscuits Mon 04-Jan-21 19:32:23

Most childminders will offer the same free hours

Cecilia2016 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:37:29

Op this happened to me when my son started preschool and I only put him for 15 hours which I knew was free and no charges was mentioned anywhere on the paper but a week later I got a bill and it was for snack and payment has to be made in advanced. Mine was less than your because my son was out of nappies. It’s annoying because it doesn’t say it on the form

OnTheRoadToSomewhere Mon 04-Jan-21 19:37:55

I provided a nappy for him in his bag and they said I don't need to do that as they have their own. I still did but he's come home in one of theirs.

He'll only ever have a glass of milk and a light meal so I'm abit pissed if I'm being charged £5 a day for this?? I could buy it all less myself and feed the whole class?

I'm more frustrated that I wasn't TOLD this and there's no info online to tell me otherwise either. What the hell - we can't afford this.

OP’s posts: |
Anonanon12 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:38:13

The government funding doesn't pay them enough, so they have to charge on top to make up the shortfall.
Ours charge £6 extra per morning and the same for the afternoon for a 'structured activity' like French or Dance... But it's just a way to cover the costs of the hall and staff as once again the Government skimp on what is really needed. Many nurseries and pre schools wouldn't be open still if they didn't charge on top sadly

amymel2016 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:38:24

The government funding barely covers the cost so most nursery’s tend to charge for food/nappies etc on top. It’s completely normal but should have been communicated to you before you signed up. Our non-funded cost per day is £66 which includes all food and nappies.

Pinklittle Mon 04-Jan-21 19:42:52

I think it's pretty standard tbh op, maybe have a chat with the nursery and mention that you are currently struggling a little and unable to afford the extra cost, they maybe able to help.

Dinosauraddict Mon 04-Jan-21 19:42:54

Yes unfortunately most nurseries do this if you only use the 'free' hours. It definitely should've been explained to you upfront though. If you complain it wasn't clear, they may waive the charge for a month as a gesture of good will, but going forwards you need to consider if you can afford the cost of nursery (e.g. supplement for meals/nappies/wipes/calpol etc on top of the Gov funding). Also worth considering that you often have to give at least a month's notice to leave, so worth making your decision fairly promptly.

OnTheRoadToSomewhere Mon 04-Jan-21 19:44:40

Okay thanks everyone. Wow, I feel dumb that I didn't know this but also kind of mad that I don't feel like I was communicated to.

Thanks for all your responses. We've got some thinking to do.

OP’s posts: |
Shmithecat2 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:46:45

Totally normal.

gigi556 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:47:44

Echoing others it's pretty standard but each nursery seems to do it differently. We moved our son to a school nursery when our funded hours kicked and do pay for school dinners at £1.70 per day but it's optional as you are allowed to provide a pack lunch.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Mon 04-Jan-21 19:47:58

Look for school nursery classes, they are often cheaper.
It definitely should have been made clearer in advance.

Blueroses99 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:49:59

You should have been told. The supplements can also be used to extend the provision from term time to across the year - not sure if this is relevant to you.

freakyfairy Mon 04-Jan-21 19:55:18

That's fairly shitty OP. I assume free means free too! Here in Ireland every child gets 9-12 FREE for 2 years before literally costs nothing!! And they give a snack!! How unfair!!

selflove Mon 04-Jan-21 19:58:20

Yes, top ups are totally normal. My nursery usually charged £6ph, but only receive £4.35ph in government funding, so make a massive loss on each funded child per day. They can't pay their staff/building costs/actives on that, so they make up some sort of miscellaneous charge to lessen the gap a bit. It definitely should have been made clearer to you though.

If you can find a nursery attached to a school, they don't usually have these additional charges.

cookiemonster5 Mon 04-Jan-21 19:58:39

The extra charges are normal but actually in breach of their funding contract. They are allowed to charge a "nominal fee" for snacks (typically 50p per day) but anything above that means they face losing their funding status.

I would go back and clarify with them and call your councils education department and double check the maximum they permit a nursery to charge.

Funded hours are free. But not usually what the nursery would like or need to get to cover their costs so this is their way of making up for that.

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