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OMG where do I start.


starsdance
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Bear with me, this could be long.

 

I lead a committee run pre-school which in itself shouldn't be a problem but of course the committee is made up of volunteers. Well our new chair and treasurer are the worst I have ever had in the 7 years I have been there for the following reasons:

 

1. Wage slips - we haven't had one for about 4 months and they have been very intermittent over the last year.

2. Wages - for the second or third time we haven't been paid on the correct day. We should have been paid on Friday as it's the last one in the month but this hasn't materialised. This seems to always happen when we have a bank holiday so makes it even longer to go without money.

3. Fundraising - we have raised at least £4000 over the last few months but haven't been able to spend any of it.

4. Replacing resources - as per above I haven't been allowed to replace any resources this past year

5. We have been told that we have money problems and some of the fundraising is to pay our wages but what we don't understand is how we can go from being ok(ish) a year or so ago to being on our knees this year. When we ask we don't get a satisfactory answer.

 

There is probably more problems that what I have put above but I am so close to handing in my notice I have stopped caring.

 

We go back a week tomorrow with lots of new 2 year olds but no new resources to actually make their experience at my pre-school a good one. We are also in this wave of Ofsted inspections, lasing being inspected Sept, so I now have a fear of them knocking on the door very very soon.

 

I am really at the point of thinking **** it and not going back myself and getting a checkout job in Tesco or somewhere where I don't have to think.

 

If you have got this far thank you for reading - I don't know what I expect in the way of answers but needed to get it off my chest.

 

'Do you want fries with that?' - just practicing.

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Hello, Starsdance. What a sad post!

 

I think you need to ask your chair and secretary and treasurer to a meeting before you start back. Do it as soon as you can. You need to have your staff there too, and if possible, your early years advisor or someone from the p.s.l.a.

 

Salaries and staff morale are really important, staff are the most important resource that a preschool has, and without a good, happy team, you may as well pack up and walk away.

 

Remember that all your resources are new, to the new children. It's lovely to have nice fresh things, and to us it's easy to feel that things are stale. Move things round a bit, challenge why you put the book corner just there and the home corner there, see if the staff have any good ideas about jollying things up a bit. You are a team, and whilst you lead that team, remember that the others may have some great ideas too that they are dying to share.

 

You probably do this anyway, I'm not suggesting that you don't, just throwing ideas into what can easily seem a bottomless pot.

 

How long have these committee members got left to serve? When is your AGM?

 

Quick edit to say that you must have sight of your cash flow, monthly if possible, or at the very least, half termly. You need to know exactly what the state of finances are, where that £4000 has featured in them and what you need to be looking at raising in the new term.

Edited by Cait
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hi stardance,

feel for you - lots of worries there- will try to give you some advice -

 

who deals with your wages -it is illegal not to be given wage slips and the setting would be in trouble if revenue etc., found this out - theses could be needed for lots of reasons in future -claiming benefits, tax refunds etc.,

 

it it illegal to use fundraising for wages -it has to be used for resources (think its written somewhere)

 

at committee meetings the treasurer should be giving a financial account and making available copies of statements etc., for committee so they should be aware of what is happening.

 

i think you need to ask for a meeting - your chair, treasurer, you and your deputy and someone from your local authority -do you belong to psla -they will support you -if not i am sure they will advise you of someone else.

you need to write down all your worries etc., and talk these through with psla/local authority before the meeting so they are up to speed with you

arrange a meeting ask them to bring a copy of finances so you can look at these before the meeting

at the meeting work through your list - ask your questions and get answers

look at the finances together- ask where / why things gone so wrong -how can help to make savings etc.,

talk about the need to work together to help resolve things - set dates for things to be completed/sorted etc., and make sure they are stuck to.

write your notes up afterwards and give all attendees a copy, maybe highlighting for each person any actions they have to complete and by when.

if necessary you may need to talk the result of the meeting with the rest of your team and there may be changes etc needed within the setting.

 

not sure if thats any help - good luck.

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I think you need an urgent meeting with everyone and your treasurer MUST bring an up to date financial state with her, including bank statements.

Staff MUST be paid on the due date; no excuses ( why can't it be done by bank transfer on the due date??) and a wage slip MUST be issued, on the due date

An explanation about where the £4000 is being used must be forthcoming...............and an explanation about why none of it can be used

 

Finally (and I hate to raise this).................do you trust the chair and treasurer?? It is not unheard of for funds to 'go missing'............it has happened several times in my area ( most recent one I know of involved thousands of pounds). It protects everyone if monthly statements are issued, showing what is due in and what is due out.............and then of course, it will show when you CAN spend money on new resources

Ihope there's a simple explanation and things get back on track quickly

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Oh dear stardance what a position to be in, nothing to add that others haven't already really, meetings asap with committee officers and your EY advisor and a call to psla if you are a member, who gets the other copy of the bank statements ? I get one and our treasurer gets the other...I hadn't realised anyone had committees that really did any of this (other than Rea) , I get stressed enough when I can't find one of them to countersign a cheque let alone trusting them with payroll and budget, you really need to know what's going on with the finances, how do they expect you to manage the setting if you don't know what the financial position is ? and if they can't do this how will they sort the workplace pensions ?

 

Hopefully you have an AGM soon and can bring about changes around transparency and have the new committee agree to sharing the finances with you, if you don't have a copy of the last accounts you can find them here, providing they sent the annual return in, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission, then when this years accounts are prepared you will be able to see where they have spent the money or if its just sitting there unspent.

 

Good Luck, I'm not knocking committees as I don't think as volunteers with no financial background they should be doing this either, but they are responsible for finding someone that can, be brave and demand answers :-)

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Could you join the committee? You might need to change your constitution in order to allow staff to do so but you would be able to find out what is going on. Or just attend committee meetings anyway - surely your committee need some input from their manager?

 

I do feel for you, as a manager of a committee run pre school myself, and I know committees can vary from year to year in their commitment(!) We do have a paid financial lady and our wages are done by local accountants.

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Oh Starsdance, I could have written that post myself only we are privately owned.

 

Not sure what to say in your circumstances- but I have printed off information about payslips being a legal requirement etc. But like you this months payday has come and gone, we have had no payslips and I highly doubt we have been paid this month either.

 

I have meetings - I am 'assured' it will be sorted (other similar issues to you) it never is.

 

Please PM me if you want to discuss it more, although you being committee run is different.

 

xxxxx

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I wouldn't go on any committee unless I was 100% sure it was being run efficiently, legally and properly..............as I wouldn't want to be held liable for any losses or possible legal action. So, your treasurer and chair need to be straight about what's going on and settle any doubts that might be troubling everyone and they need to do it asap.

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Thank you for your replies - I will try and answer them as best I can.

 

Resources - it's not the case of wanting new shiny things (well it could be) but actually replacing items that have worn out or we need to restock.

 

AGM - this is held in July as this is when most committee members leave and we have to get new ones in for September. Chair will be with us till July 2017 and treasurer July 2018.

 

The committee have meetings once a term which I am not invited to. We do have a parent/committee meeting once a term but normally the finances are glossed over as we are 'doing ok' but could do with some more fundraising.

 

The hours are done by me as they can fluctuate on a monthly basis (I so wish we were paid a salary over the year but it's too hard apparently) then sent to the treasurer. She puts them onto another spreadsheet and they are sent to our accountants to be confirmed then paid. I can't see the accountants holding onto the wage slips (I could be wrong) but we don't get them on a regular basis. I got the Jan, March and April wage slips emailed to me on May 3rd as I reiterated that the staff needed them to make any claims on tax credits etc. I think we have had one since then. I may email the accountants and ask for copies going back to last September as I don't know who is missing what. I could ask them why we haven't had them to find it if it is a problem their end or ours.

 

Trust - I do trust them. The chair has offered to lend us some money to get the most important bits and she will claim it back when we have some. I don't want to do that as it won't help in future years. The treasurer is on holiday! (No I don't mean anything by that but as we haven't been paid it's scuppered our chances of having a short break this week - got offered the use of a holiday flat and would only need spending money)

 

Bank statements - I have never seen one. This is something that has historically always been done by the committee.

 

Joining committee - I don't want to and I don't think I would be allowed. Though saying that it's only the last couple of years that we have been invited to the parent/committee meetings.

 

I have done a forecast for the forthcoming year and it doesn't look good. Based on the children we have and if they keep the hours they are doing at the moment (not likely as some become funded during the year so will up them) we have a deficit of just over £3000. This is just based on what we will receive in income against what we are paying out in wages. It doesn't take into account the rent of the hall, money for the meter, phone bill, milk, snack etc so I can see where they are coming from that we can't spend any of the money we have raised. Where do I find out that money raised has to be spent on resources.

 

That's about it - again sorry for the long post but have spent this afternoon working everything out. Hopefully, we will get to work the week after next and have 5 new children banging on the door wanting to do every day and throwing money at us ::1a

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this doesn't sound good at all, a 3k deficit is worrying for you all and ok they took 4k in fundraising this year but might not next year, and fundraising should be for the 'extras' not to cover running costs really, not knowing your figures it's hard to help or see where savings could be made, but do you run over staffed to what ratio's allow ? is your rent excessive ? why isn't rent including whatever is going in the meter ? do you have room to increase your hourly rate ?

 

It is very easy to work out salaries over year (including holiday pay) and pay regular monthly wages, and much easier to budget.

 

If you don't get any joy from a meeting with them I would consider getting advise from acas.

Edited by Mouseketeer
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We run on 3 staff a day (we increased to 4 last term as we had lots of two year olds and felt we needed the extra eyes) so can't cut that any more. The rent is not excessive as we are in a village hall and their main hirees. Unfortunately, the heating and plugs in the hall run on meters so we can be spending up to £4 a day to keep the place warm. I am going to suggest we increase our hourly rate from Christmas to bring it more in line with the other pre schools in the area. We are in a small village in the arse end of nowhere so we only get children from the nearest surrounding villages or the run off from the bigger villages up the road. If we do get the run off we only seem to keep them until their is a space at the other pre schools as that is where the parents want them to go to school from. We also lose children the term after they turn 4 as the village school takes them into a 'nursery class' and I think they get blackmailed somewhat by the head by thinking that they may not get a space in reception if they don't go to the nursery class. I don't need people to tell me that this isn't the case as we know it isn't and spend a lot of our time telling the parents this. But a lot of the parents think they will 'miss' out by not going early. (Again, another conversation we have time after time).

 

I have mentioned for the last couple of years about being paid a monthly salary but can't seem to get a treasurer to agree to change it.........

 

I have emailed my chair and treasurer saying we need to have a meeting as we need to look at the pre school long term and if we are not getting the children through we may have to call it day at the end of the year. This will be a shame as there has been some sort of provision in the village for the last 40 years but I suppose back then they didn't have the demands of NMW and pensions.

 

I will let you all know how it goes.

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Gosh what a worrying situation for you. I am the manager and not on the committee, but I attend every meeting. I think this is so important as I am the link to the group. How do they know what's going on everyday otherwise. I think there is a complete lack of transparency with your finances and I would address this ASAP. Having taken on the administrators role for our group My priority is to have a clear paper trail for all finances. It actually worries me stupid that no one is double checking this between our termly meetings! Quite frightening to be accountable, especially with my maths skills, or lack of!

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I feel so sorry for you! What a horrible pressure to be under. I am in the same situation as Zigzag, manager but not on the committee. I attend all meetings too and would feel very concerned if I wasn't kept up to speed with the finances. How are you supposed to run a setting without this knowledge? Would any local companies be prepared to donate any supplies for your setting? It might be worth asking. You obviously have very supportive parents, judging by the amount of funds that were raised so perhaps they would consider donating a few resources if they were aware that the setting was under such financial pressure. I'm sure they don't want to lose you!

Good luck, I hope it works out for you.

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Hi Starsdance - can I ask if you are a registered charity? If you are you can log onto the charities commission web site and look at the accounts which have to be filed yearly (anyone can do this you do not need log on details) - this will give you an overview of the last few years detailing if you went into this financial year at a loss or in credit. You should then be able to use your forecast to see how far "in trouble" you are. The accounts listed for the last 4 - 5 years will give you a really good idea of what yearly costs are which really helps with forecasting. Is the deficit usual for example and is the fundraising therefore closing the gap? (None of us like to use fundraising for this but sometimes we don't have a choice!) Do staff drop hours at the quieter times of year or are you all on fixed hours contracts?

 

Perhaps if you explain how much stress being kept in the dark is causing you and your staff the committee may be a little more understanding. As manager you should be kept fully informed or how can you maintain a healthy budget? As a committee they are of course bound by law and will be responsible for losses as trustees especially if they are found to have mismanaged the funds!!

 

Fantastic fund raising amount by the way!!!

 

Its so difficult in these situations and I hope all turns out okay for you.

 

Good luck

Edited by PaseyLtd
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Can I just say your first priority has to be STAFF WAGES. These must be paid on time and when staff expect them. I must admit to occasionally emailing my staff 2 months at a time but would always have it there to hand immediately if asked.

They get the same amount via SO each month and then any overtime or days to be deducted are sorted at the same time each month.

We get paid on the 6th of each month and have a cut off period of the 25th of each month or changes. If you have internet banking it can be even later than that. If you have an accountant that is verifying salaries each month then it sounds to me like someone is just being plain lazy and either not passing through the salary amounts to be paid or they are and whoever is responsible for actually paying the wages isnt doing so. I have two staff that totally rely on their salaries and would have bills bouncing around all over if not paid on time. There really is no excuse for it, esp in this day and age money transfers are so easy now.

If your salaries are being paid late you also need to find out then (although this would be the committees liability) if reports/payments are going through to HMRC on time.

Two years ago we had a treasurer leave us in the middle of the summer holidays and left us in a dreadful mess. It was only because staff were paid by SO that wages carried on but we had 3 months where no PAYE or ENIC was paid and it caused us no end of grief and hassle (not to mention a fortune in phone calls to HMRC) So now instead of just telling the Treasurer to add or subtract so much from salaries and then her coming back to me and telling me how much to pay. I now run the whole payroll myself. Probably shouldn't be doing so but we cant afford to pay someone £50 per month to do it and the software I use is brilliant.

I would actually write an official letter of complaint to your chair and ask her to investigate why your salaries are not paid on time (again)

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You should be able to contact the accountants yourself to ask about sending wage slips. This all sounds really bad, but one of the points of having a committee is accountability - it prevents one (or two) people from holding all information - and a financial report really should be presented and minuted at every meeting. It may be a good idea to speak to another committee member to tell them about the concerns of you and your team and that you need your wages on time every month as you have bills to pay.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply but we had a meeting with the Chair and Treasurer and asked outright as to whether we need to be looking for a new job! They have said that they can forsee us going until Easter unless we can fill the spaces either by children upping their hours or getting new children. We have got a massive publicity and advertising campaign going on at the moment so we will have to wait and see.

 

We would get at least 5 weeks notice (pay, if we close immediately) but it is the stress of trying your best everyday as Ofsted could be looming to wonder if it will pan out in the end.

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