30 hour funding farce
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    Default 30 hour funding farce

    I don't mind offering the 30 hours funding (although believe it to be a complete unnecessary waste of tax payers money and futile to a lot of high earning parents who don't actually need it) but I'm buqqered if I'm going to lose out. My parents can easily afford the fees without any subsidy and are happy to pay my fee upfront and then i refund the pittance the government pay me when I (eventually) get it..... So how much trouble would I actually get in if I'm audited??

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    I have read our LA FE agreement document. If you are found to be doing something you shouldn't, or a parent complains you are doing something wrong, they can investigate and ask you to put it right. The worse they can do is take you off the FE scheme, as far as I can see.
    Don't you get any FE payments up-front? Some LA pay a % at the beginning of term and then the rest around half term. I am not on the scheme and have no plans to due to the administration nightmare and the low £ rate.

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    Well that would be penalising the parent and child too?! No I don't get paid the fundinguntil the middle of the second month of the term (so two payments I would have been due from parents as I charge monthly in advance)!!
    Last edited by Fitrix; 03-08-2017 at 12:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    Well that would be penalising the parent and child too?! No I don't get paid the fundinguntil the middle of the second month of the term (so two payments I would have been due from parents as I charge monthly in advance)!!
    It is shocking how poorly LAs are treating providers and how it varies across the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    Well that would be penalising the parent and child too?! No I don't get paid the fundinguntil the middle of the second month of the term (so two payments I would have been due from parents as I charge monthly in advance)!!
    We are lucky in Somerset we get 90% paid about 2 weeks after start of term and then remaining 10% at the end of the term. Maybe you could call the parent's payment a "retainer" rather than actual fees - it is after all retaining you being able to pay your bills and mortgage so they still have a childminder when the council bother to pay you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hectors house View Post
    We are lucky in Somerset we get 90% paid about 2 weeks after start of term and then remaining 10% at the end of the term. Maybe you could call the parent's payment a "retainer" rather than actual fees - it is after all retaining you being able to pay your bills and mortgage so they still have a childminder when the council bother to pay you.
    Super idea! Will definitely do that!

    On this subject - thought I'd share something with you all which illustrates perfectly the injustices of the 30 hour funding: friend of mine handles the fees/funding for the day nursery she works in. When she told one mum she could potentially save £250/month on nursery fees by using the 30 hours funding, mum said "£250!!! Wow - that's a new handbag for me every month!!" Say no more?!?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    Well that would be penalising the parent and child too?! No I don't get paid the fundinguntil the middle of the second month of the term (so two payments I would have been due from parents as I charge monthly in advance)!!
    Of course, the irony is that you're very nearly mimicking the system as it has run in Scotland far more successfully than the mess we're stuck with in England.

    I agree with Moggy, the worst the LA could do is take you off the scheme and refuse to pay you. But, as you already have the parents' money up front, you'd not be out of pocket. All CMs should add a contract clause to say clients are liable to unpaid funding claims. That could protect you from this mum claiming you had to repay her, but you must check this with your insurer. It's possible mum could have a legal claim that you're liable through 'negligence'; that is, by not following the published rules.

    I also agree with you that the family will ultimately suffer through these ridiculous rules. Our LA even forbids us from holding a deposit. I know some settings have been told that a child's absences will be deducted from the funding payments, but they cannot charge for sickness absences or holiday retainers either. Again, they lose funded status and the parents lose out.

    I know someone in our LA funding team who has warned me, off the record, that I could well lose funded status if audited, because I offer reduced fees to parents on low incomes. The nursery near the local hospital has been warned it is breaking funding rules by offering discounts to NHS staff. Again, this just hurts the parents.

    It's very nearly enough to put me off funding altogether. It makes extra work for less money, when I could easily find parents who could just pay. All I want to do is to help loyal clients and parents who genuinely need some help.

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    I fear the LA auditors could be quite busy.

    A trawl through the message boards on 'Mumsie-Netty' type sites reveals the frightening scale of parents who just don't get it.

    There are lots of posts from mums, up in arms because their respective nurseries are "ripping them off" with charges for meals or set times for funded sessions, all stuff that's perfectly within the rules, plus a few things which may not be ok.

    Typical was one mum, furious at a daily snacks charge of £5 when "all DD gets is a banana - I refuse to pay £5 for a banana." It simply didn't occur to her that nursery was trying to recoup something of their losses, and that she was getting free childcare if she'd only pay up £25pw.

    But it's staggering how many 'helpful' replies they get, telling them to complain because the nursery will have to stop it or risk losing their funding. It doesn't seem to occur to them that parents will lose 30 free hours as a result of complaining over a few ££££s for such "unfair" charges. If the nursery loses its funding as a result, it's all the families who lose out, not just the idiot who raises the complaint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bunyip View Post
    I fear the LA auditors could be quite busy.

    A trawl through the message boards on 'Mumsie-Netty' type sites reveals the frightening scale of parents who just don't get it.

    There are lots of posts from mums, up in arms because their respective nurseries are "ripping them off" with charges for meals or set times for funded sessions, all stuff that's perfectly within the rules, plus a few things which may not be ok.

    Typical was one mum, furious at a daily snacks charge of £5 when "all DD gets is a banana - I refuse to pay £5 for a banana." It simply didn't occur to her that nursery was trying to recoup something of their losses, and that she was getting free childcare if she'd only pay up £25pw.

    But it's staggering how many 'helpful' replies they get, telling them to complain because the nursery will have to stop it or risk losing their funding. It doesn't seem to occur to them that parents will lose 30 free hours as a result of complaining over a few ££££s for such "unfair" charges. If the nursery loses its funding as a result, it's all the families who lose out, not just the idiot who raises the complaint.
    It's not just mums complaining. I've seen childminders on Facebook complaining that they're planning to send their children to nursery and are furious that they're being asked to pay a contribution and aren't getting completely free childcare. If childminders don't understand it how on earth can we expect parents to?

    On the subject of an audit I've found the best approach is to look carefully at what the LA want and make sure your paperwork shows exactly that, even it it means tweaking a few details.

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    OK so - I am happy I can protect myself by adding this clause to the contract:

    Retainer to secure the placement until 3 year old Early Years Funding is paid as per attached sheet.
    Parents are liable for unpaid funding claims, as per original contract between parents/myself regardless of Surrey County Council’s terms and conditions on eligibility of funding.

    New question: if I get audited, can the parents get in trouble? They are more than happy (and believe it right) to pay upfront and are just so grateful I am helping them save some money!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    OK so - I am happy I can protect myself by adding this clause to the contract:

    Retainer to secure the placement until 3 year old Early Years Funding is paid as per attached sheet.
    Parents are liable for unpaid funding claims, as per original contract between parents/myself regardless of Surrey County Council’s terms and conditions on eligibility of funding.

    New question: if I get audited, can the parents get in trouble? They are more than happy (and believe it right) to pay upfront and are just so grateful I am helping them save some money!!
    No, parents can't get into trouble, they can pay you voluntarily if they want, some settings are asking for donations to cover their loses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    OK so - I am happy I can protect myself by adding this clause to the contract:

    Retainer to secure the placement until 3 year old Early Years Funding is paid as per attached sheet.
    Parents are liable for unpaid funding claims, as per original contract between parents/myself regardless of Surrey County Council’s terms and conditions on eligibility of funding.

    New question: if I get audited, can the parents get in trouble? They are more than happy (and believe it right) to pay upfront and are just so grateful I am helping them save some money!!
    AFAIK parents could only get into trouble if they deliberately over-claim through multiple settings. It's always been a distinct possibility in my area where I've had clients within four local authorities. I know some families have been caught out over-claiming, but I'm not aware of any prosecutions for fraud.

    Check with Surrey CC about the retainer. Some LAs don't allow retainers or deposits in relation to a funded arrangement, as they claim it means the parent is paying to access 'free' care. The discrepancies between what different LAs will/won't allow seem to be greater than ever.

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    Thank you all for your helpful replies. I feel confident I and my parents will be ok doing things this way. I appreciate your advice bunyip but I have to say I will conform to LA rules on safeguarding and certain other regulations. As far as what and how I charge they can go swivel. It is MY business and the ONLY authority I am answerable to is HMRC!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitrix View Post
    Thank you all for your helpful replies. I feel confident I and my parents will be ok doing things this way. I appreciate your advice bunyip but I have to say I will conform to LA rules on safeguarding and certain other regulations. As far as what and how I charge they can go swivel. It is MY business and the ONLY authority I am answerable to is HMRC!!
    You're absolutely right. The EYFS/childcare regulations are already too intrusive IMHO without being dictated to any further.

    I've told my LA funding team they are welcome to withdraw my funding any time they want. I'll be better off, and it's the parents who will suffer. Should that happen, my advice to the parents will be to go straight to their MPs and the press.

    No other CMs in my village offer funding, so I'm not going to lose any clients I can't replace. In fact, if I was really in it for the money, I'd gradually replace all my clients with parents from a neighbouring, affluent district who would pay considerably higher fees.

    That's what gets me about all the intrusive LA interfering. It assumes we're raking it in and scamming them to do so, when the truth is so very different.

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    On a related subject, will everyone please ensure they check birth dates and verify funded children's DOB by seeing birth certificates, no matter how long you've had the child under contract?

    I've had notification from our LA that some apparently 'valid' 30-hour codes have been issued to parents for 2 year olds, who are not entitled to any form of funding. So far they've only been picked up by visual checks as staff work through the claims, and could be easily overlooked, as their computer system doesn't seem to screen the DOB.

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    I know some people aren't on Facebook but the Champagne Nurseries for Lemonade funding page is very good - this is a link to a letter that a member of the group received from Dept for Education Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding Public Group | Facebook (in case the link doesn't work because it's a closed group, here is a paragraph from the letter which you may find interesting regarding monthly payments for Childminders)



    "Our early education and childcare statutory guidance makes clear that it is for local authorities to decide the hourly rate for delivery of the free entitlement. We have advised that local authorities should pay all providers, particularly childminders, monthly and are expected to do so from September 2018. If a provider requests and the local authority agree an existing alternative sustainable method of payment may be continued. Authorities should also sign up to the Prompt Payment Code that has been produced by the Institute of Credit Management. You can find more on our statutory guidance:
    Page not found - 404 - GOV.UK "

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    Thanks for that, Hectors House.

    I think one of the biggest problems with the whole funding scheme, past, present and future is that so many of these government statements begin with "Local authorities should ....." whilst childminders are confronted with many statements which begin "Providers must ....."

    Subtle, but significant, and so unfair.

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