Child day care costs to rise by 17%
Parents set to pay around £12k a year to send their child to council-run centres
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.
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.