Child day care costs to rise by 17%

Par­ents set to pay around £12k a year to send their child to coun­cil-run cen­tres

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Goolis­tan Cooper ed­i­to­ri­aluxbridge@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk

DAY care costs at coun­cil­run chil­dren’s cen­tres in Hilling­don will in­crease by nearly 17 per cent if the lo­cal author­ity’s bud­get pro­pos­als are ap­proved next week.

Hilling­don Coun­cil’s draft bud­get had orig­i­nally in­cluded an in­crease of al­most 59 per cent, but the author­ity has now cor­rected the er­ror on its web­site.

How­ever, the smaller in­crease will still mean par­ents hav­ing to pay £47.80 a day per child, rather than £41, as has been the cost since 2003.

For a child be­ing sent to a coun­cil-run day care cen­tre ev­ery week day, this will equate to an an­nual cost of £12,428, up from £10,660.

The fees ap­ply to Nes­tles Av­enue Chil­dren’s Cen­tre, in Nes­tles Av­enue, Hayes; South Ruis­lip Early Years Cen­tre, in Queens Walk, South Ruis­lip; and Uxbridge Early Years Cen­tre, in Park Road, Uxbridge.

One mother, who wished to re­main un­named, said: “It’s a huge, huge im­pact on par­ents who pay to send their chil­dren to those nurs­eries.

“It was such a shock and that’s such a big in­crease when you’ve got chil­dren.

“It seems ex­tremely un­fair for them to put that pres­sure on the par­ents. Some of them will have to move their chil­dren.”

Coun­cil­lor David Sim­monds, deputy leader of the coun­cil and cabi­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion and chil­dren’s ser­vices, blamed the pro­posed in­crease on a de­ci­sion by the Hilling­don Schools Fo­rum, which de­cides how money is split be­tween the bor­ough’s schools, to pull fi­nan­cial sup­port for the three cen­tres.

Coun­cil­lor Sim­monds said: “As a con­se­quence of this de­ci­sion, the coun­cil in­cluded in its bud­get pa­pers pro­pos­als to in­crease fees so that users of the cen­tres pay the ac­tual cost of the ser­vice re­ceived, mak­ing al­lowance for the re­ten­tion of some sub­sidy for fam­i­lies in par­tic­u­lar need, as is the main pur­pose of the cen­tres.

“Through­out this pe­riod, ne­go­ti­a­tions with the cen­tres and Schools Fo­rum about costs have been con­tin­u­ing and they will do so at the very least un­til the coun­cil’s bud­get con­sul­ta­tion concludes and the coun­cil sets its bud­get on Fe­bru­ary 26, when a fi­nal de­ci­sion will be taken.”

Coun­cil­lor Sim­monds said all af­fected par­ents had been made aware of the changes, but added there re­mained ‘plenty of time for a change of heart on the part of the Schools Fo­rum, as well as the op­por­tu­nity to look at cen­tre costs’.

The Schools Fo­rum com­prises around 20 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions in the bor­ough. Its job is to de­cide how money from cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s Ded­i­cated Schools Grant is spent.

The fo­rum’s chair, Robert Lo­batto, who is also head teacher at Barn­hill Com­mu­nity High, in Yead­ing Lane, Hayes, said some money was be­ing with­drawn be­cause it had not been used for its orig­i­nal in­tended pur­pose – to sub­sidise fees for chil­dren with spe­cific care plans.

He said the money, some ‘hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds’, had been al­lo­cated for this pur­pose for at least 15 years, but had more re­cently been wrongly used to sub­sidise all day care fees.

He

said

it was

his un­der­stand­ing that those par­ents whose chil­dren have spe­cific care plans would con­tinue to re­ceive the same fee sub­si­dies, while oth­ers would not, mean­ing the to­tal sub­sidy fund­ing for the three cen­tres would drop ‘sig­nif­i­cantly’.

The coun­cil’s cabi­net ap­proved the bud­get pro­pos­als in De­cem­ber.

They are now be­ing ex­am­ined by a pol­icy over­view com­mit­tee and were made sub­ject to a public con­sul­ta­tion, which ended on Fri­day, Jan­uary 30.

The draft bud­get will go be­fore full coun­cil on Fe­bru­ary 26.

If ap­proved, th­ese mea­sures will be­come ef­fec­tive from Septem­ber 1.

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