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We have recieved a letter today from our LEA regarding the Free Early Education Entitlement saying that we are not allowed to charge a registration fee.

 

Do any of you still charge for registration?

 

The way the letter reads "Providers will not be allowed to charge 'top up' fees (the difference between what a provider would normally charge and the funding they recieve from the local authority to deliver the free entitlement) in relation to any free hours. No other fees can be charged in relation to the free entitlement, for eg; registration or uniform".

 

Does this mean that we can not charge 3+ year olds but we can still charge 2 year olds?

 

Appreciate any comments

 

Thanks

Debbie

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Check with your LA but technically there is no reason why you shouldn't charge a registration fee for under threes since they are not accessing the funding. You could also ask your LA if it is OK to charge a voluntary donation in lieu of a registration fee!

 

Maz

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We have never been allowed to charge a registration fee for funded sessions in my authority as the protocol usually is that the parenst get it bac as a reduction in thier first invoice - and as they don't pay for funding how can you refund the fee. I have never charged registration for any of my places anyway as don't feel it's necessary and as a Surestart Nursery would disadvantage our main target groups really . :o

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Hi Debbie

 

My understanding is that if parents only want to use "free entitlment" hours with you than you cannot charge them a registration fee.

 

But if they want hours over and above the "free entitlement" hours, hours that you are at liberty to charge them for at your hourly rate, then you can charge a registration fee for three and four year olds. You are allowed to have a registration fee for any fee paying clients if you wish.

 

You can't charge for any "extra's" for anything that happens within their entitlement hours like singing lessons for example.

 

If anyone thinks I am reading LA/Government rules totally wrong then let me know as soon as possible please.

 

BMG

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We have recieved a letter today from our LEA regarding the Free Early Education Entitlement saying that we are not allowed to charge a registration fee.

 

Do any of you still charge for registration?

 

The way the letter reads "Providers will not be allowed to charge 'top up' fees (the difference between what a provider would normally charge and the funding they recieve from the local authority to deliver the free entitlement) in relation to any free hours. No other fees can be charged in relation to the free entitlement, for eg; registration or uniform".

 

Does this mean that we can not charge 3+ year olds but we can still charge 2 year olds?

 

Appreciate any comments

 

Thanks

Debbie

Debbie,

 

I too am in MK and received the letter. We do charge a reg fee at the moment to cover admin costs in the first instance but after reading an article in a mag that this couldn't happen any more, we spoke to the PSLA who advised us that if we contiued to charge the fee then we would be OK if we refunded it back to them either as money off first sessions, giving a free item of uniform or not charging them 'snack' money for the first term.

 

Have you spoken to anyone about it?

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I have never charged registration for any of my places anyway as don't feel it's necessary and as a Surestart Nursery would disadvantage our main target groups really . :o

I imagine life is very different for many reasons in a Surestart Nursery, redjayne. It just goes to show how different we all are and the different pressures we face!

 

Maz

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we spoke to the PSLA who advised us that if we contiued to charge the fee then we would be OK if we refunded it back to them either as money off first sessions, giving a free item of uniform or not charging them 'snack' money for the first term.

Be careful though Debbie - make sure you check this advice out with your Local Authority because they and not the PSLA are the ones setting the local conditions. We've been told in our LA that we can't make a deposit charge against future fees either. Not sure about whether we can charge snack money either, if children are only accessing their 'free' entitlement.

 

Will need to check that one out! :o

 

Maz

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Be careful though Debbie - make sure you check this advice out with your Local Authority because they and not the PSLA are the ones setting the local conditions. We've been told in our LA that we can't make a deposit charge against future fees either. Not sure about whether we can charge snack money either, if children are only accessing their 'free' entitlement.

 

Will need to check that one out! :o

 

Maz

 

I have read the letter again and it says 'No other fees can be charged in relation to the free entitlement, for example for registration or uniform'!

 

If parents have to buy a uniform for school education then what is the difference in them buying a pre-school or nursery uniform? As long as its not compulsory, its up to the parents whether they buy it or not - wish we had that choice for school, it would save me a fortune!!!

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We are not allowed to charge for a reg fee if someone is claiming the funding... but we can charge it to our 2 year olds, we are also not allowed to sell uniform. we have been told that if a parent approaches us and asks for a uniform we can sell it but we cant be compulsory... they mustnt be forced to buy it, we are also not allowed to charge a snack fee to the children who have funding........... apparently free is free..........

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I was told we could not charge a registration fee but could charge an administration fee for maintaining the waiting list , writing letters re a place, stamps etc. as this was a service that had to be paid for.

 

Maybe you could get round it that way?

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Debbie,

 

I too am in MK and received the letter. We do charge a reg fee at the moment to cover admin costs in the first instance but after reading an article in a mag that this couldn't happen any more, we spoke to the PSLA who advised us that if we contiued to charge the fee then we would be OK if we refunded it back to them either as money off first sessions, giving a free item of uniform or not charging them 'snack' money for the first term.

 

Have you spoken to anyone about it?

 

Hi She, the letter also said that "Parents are not required to pay up-front and be refunded at a later date"

 

Watching this post with interest

 

Debbie

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Are you a pre-school Debbie?

 

I like the idea of an admin fee as we can send out a prospectus and enrolment forms followed by all the required forms, copies of policies etc when we allocate places which all adds up cost wise only for the family not to turn up on their start date.

 

I think a few phone calls are in order tomorrow!!

 

Let me know how you get on - it will be interesting to see if you get told the same as us!

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Yes we are a Pre-School She,

 

I also thought an admin fee was a good idea, I will be calling our LEA tomorrow, will let you know what they say.

 

Debbie

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I havent seen a letter here in Birmingham so I dont know what the rules are, but we charge an admin fee which also gives them a T-shirt on joining. We started charging the fee when we had children put onto the waiting list who then didnt show up. It sometimes resulted in us turning people away because we didnt have space and so we lost out. We refund any fee if we cant offer them a place but thats never happened, I always know if theers a place available before they hand over any money.

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I havent seen a letter here in Birmingham so I dont know what the rules are, but we charge an admin fee which also gives them a T-shirt on joining.

If it is obligatory for parents to pay when they register with you and only intend to take the 15 hours of their 'free' entitlement then you might find that this too will be 'outlawed' under the new code of practice. I'd call your LA to see what their view is about whether you can continue to charge this after September for funded three year olds. Although you'd still be able to charge for under threes or unfunded three year olds!

 

Maz

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If schools are allowed to have a compulsory uniform then why on earth cant we?

I do find some of these rules and regulations ridiculous. we have a compulsary uniform and unless I am shown it in black & white within the new code of practise, stating that we cannot do this then I will continue to do so. We also charge a 'holding' deposit when we offer a place to parents that is refunded within their last half term- again doe sit state this in the new code of p that we cant, or is it just LA's making uo their own rules? I asked our LA a couple of years ago if we could charge a deposit and refund it later and they were quite happy for us to do so. I will await the new c of p before I make any changes.

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unless I am shown it in black & white within the new code of practise, stating that we cannot do this then I will continue to do so.

Page 12 of the Code of Practice says:-

 

Local authorities should also ensure no other fees are being charged in relation to the free entitlement, for example for registration or uniform. If the practice continues local authorities should consider removing the provider from the Directory of Providers delivering the free entitlement and withdraw free entitlement funding.

 

You can download a copy of the Code of Practice here.

 

Maz

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I have already asked ours and have been told we cannot charge an administration fee.... all i keep getting told if free is free and you are not allowed to charge for anything... we use to charge a £10 fee which also covered their book bag and reserved them a place and helped us pay for all the printing and paper that it takes to print everything...i have been told we cannot charge this......... it all just seems so wrong!!!!!!!!

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We have been told categorically that we cannot charge for admin, or snack time etc for children who only access free hours, yet several groups in my area do so and say they will continue to do so. One charges £5 per month as well for snacks and art materials. I seem to be the only one playing by the rules in my part of the world??

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We were sent a letter saying that they had intended to tell us we can't charge an admission fee but as the new government is unlikely to uphold this part of the new formula, we could continue as we are for now!!

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I wish they would make their minds up as to what is supposed to be happening!

 

We don't make a profit on uniform but we would lose money if we couldn't charge a reg/admin fee and 'snack' money which makes a big difference to a voluntary pre-school/registered charity!

 

I can see why some providers are opting out of the funding just to survive!

 

Off to work to make some phone calls!!

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If it is obligatory for parents to pay when they register with you and only intend to take the 15 hours of their 'free' entitlement then you might find that this too will be 'outlawed' under the new code of practice. I'd call your LA to see what their view is about whether you can continue to charge this after September for funded three year olds. Although you'd still be able to charge for under threes or unfunded three year olds!

 

Maz

 

 

Mostly they are under 2 when they apply for a place to start when they are 2.5 so I think we might be able to carry on, but I'll bear it in mind for sure. The £10 covers the T=shirt and admin, part of the snacks are provided by the parents who bring in a piece of fruit each day, we provide the toast, crackers, drinks ect. I cant phone the LA, I have no idea who I would need to contact. DW is pretty useless too, I tend to know more than she does thanks to this forum!

Edited by Rea
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Dearie me, I knew about the registration but the uniform????? Absolutely ridiculous. If parents are willing to pay a registration fee then I really cannot see what business it is of the government, even if they are providing the funding. Schools dont give away free uniforms, why should we or rather why shouldn't we be able to sell a uniform.

We dont charge for snacks but ask for a 'donation' of snacks. I rather think we may be asking for a donation regarding uniforms soon. I think I will leave things as they are for the time being, I know a new code of practise has just been printed but we will see what this goverment is going to change first. Also I am fed up of being one of the few providers in my borough who abide by the rules only to find out that others aren't as in charging top up fees, no refundable admin fees etc. Our EY's have said we can charge a reg fee as long as we are refunding it, as far as I am concerned that is good enough. So many of our children are not funded when they start that it doesn't matter anyway but I suppose the uniform is an ongoing issue.

Gosh I am surprised at how cross this has made me!! I wonder how anyone makes any money from pre-schools or nurseries, so many silly rules and regulations

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Also I am fed up of being one of the few providers in my borough who abide by the rules only to find out that others aren't as in charging top up fees, no refundable admin fees etc.

Our Local Authority have really taken this on board - and are consulting with neighbouring authorities because we as providers keep saying "but my friend's setting in.....". It is important that everyone plays by the rules, or we will find that parents will gravitate towards (or away from) certain groups in order to find more advantageous terms, which isn't fair on those groups who are abiding by the rules.

 

Maz

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Completely agree with you happymaz.

 

These funding issues have us between a rock and a hard plate, we will have 34 children left on role in September, all of these want 15 hrs of funding which leaves us with no spaces left at all to take on new children. We have extended our hours to a 2 1/2 hr session in the afternoon so thsat we can take some non funded children but even this leaves us with no flexibility on extra sessions some children may want as they get older for a whole year!!!

 

Whole thing has made me mad as well :o

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These funding issues have us between a rock and a hard plate, we will have 34 children left on role in September, all of these want 15 hrs of funding which leaves us with no spaces left at all to take on new children.

I have the opposite problem, debster - I have so few children that on the one hand I can offer every child their full entitlement which is good. Whilst the amount of funding I am going to receive will increase because of the extra half hour, the level of funding doesn't meet my hourly fees so I am losing income for every funded child I have on my books. If I was full to capacity I would at least be able to benefit from the economies of scale - I just have to hope that parents will increase their sessions next term because they will be free! :o

 

Maz

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I have understood it that NO child , now only wanting free entitlement, anywhere in the country can be charged any additional fees - including admin, uniform, bookbags etc. if it affects their entry/access to a setting. Check maybe with your LA but as long as you are not turning anyone away, I would think you can make these charges if you need to.

Does anyone else charge admin/deposits etc? I don't but wondering whether I should be!

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The general rule of thumb is that no family of a child eligible for funding should be charged any fee in order to access their 'free' entitlement. However once the child accesses anything outside the daily 'free' period then settings are able to charge what they see fit.

 

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that different LAs set their own local criteria, and are applying the Code of Practice with varying levels of strictness. One might even be tempted to suggest that some groups will continue to make these charges even if they are against the spirit of the Code and then sit back and see what their LA does about it! :o

 

I currently charge a registration fee, and will continue to do so if the child is not eligible for funding when they register. Unless of course I get told to do otherwise! xD

 

Maz

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all

 

Its official, we can not charge for snack, registration, uniform - unless the children do not recieve government funding!!!

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