A former county council nursery now run by a national charity could increase its session fees by up to 31pc – and fine parents who are late.

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Footprints Nursery, based at Hunstanton Children’s Centre, is consulting on plans to introduce a £5 penalty for every 15 minutes parents are late collecting their child.

They also want to close at 5pm instead of 6pm.

Action for Children took control in July after Norfolk County Council put the running of its 44 children’s centres out to tender in a bid to cut costs.

Sarah Kent’s daughter Darcey, three, and 18-month-old son Noah attend Footprints Nursery twice a week and she said the proposals had reduced her to tears.

She said from January, Darcey’s daycare costs will rise 31pc from £25.20 a day to £33, while Noah’s fees will rise 29pc from £28 a day to £36 – a total increase of £31.60 a week – not including possible late fines.

“I understand the cost of everything is rising, but we were horrified by the size of the increase,” Mrs Kent, 35, said. “The government says we should go out to work and that’s what I do, but I will have to seriously consider giving up now.

“It is just so upsetting. The children are really settled there and I don’t want to have to move them.”

Mrs Kent, who works at a law firm, said the town lacked affordable childcare and she would struggle to find a local alternative to the centre.

“At the moment, the nursery offers really flexible hours. I finish work at 5pm and pick the children up at about 5.15pm. When they introduce the late fee, I could be paying extra every day.”

A letter was sent home to parents inviting them to discuss the changes at a meeting on Wednesday.

Mrs Kent’s husband, Rigil, added: “We have spoken to many parents regarding this, some of whom are single parents or families on low incomes, and the majority have said they cannot afford these rises.

“They will either have to stop working or take their children out of the nursery and send them somewhere else.”

Action for Children operates 23 children’s centres and four nurseries across the county, including King’s Lynn.

Anne Waterman, the charity’s operations director for children’s services for Norfolk, said: “Action for Children has had to increase the Hunstanton Footprints nursery charges to ensure the service is financially viable.

“Each year costs rise which has meant we have had to increase our fees. The fees are now in line with comparable providers across Norfolk and are considerably cheaper than private sector providers. “The proposal to reduce the nursery’s opening hours is currently out to consultation with our parents and no final decision has yet been made.”

A spokesman for the charity said late fees were “standard practice”.

21 comments

  • These fines would be illegal, as they would contravene the 1689 Bill of rights Act. Any person being fined has the right to take it to court. It's why so many people got bank fines reimbursed.

    Report this comment

    LLCK

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • When Norfolk County was commissioning these new providers they set out these specifications.......1....Maintaining services...2....making sure they reach those in greatest need....3.. .value for money...4....best possible provision.....So which one of these specifications does a 31 percent increase meet?

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Forgot to mention, all fees have to be paid by credit card which do to internal processing costs attracts a nominal charge of £10. Ryanair Surestart Schools, a charity that puts children and parents first.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Sorry @Chris Booty your imperial analogy is completely wrong, I hope you are not put in positions where your thinking has influence. With this particular 'charity vegetable merchant' you order 5lb of potatoes at £1.00, but when you turn up to collect, and ask for 6lb, they demand an extra £1.00.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Action For Children has 2715 full time staff with average income about £40,000, so don't expect them to be any cheaper than the council service that they have replaced.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • They should be executed for having them.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Although I understand that fee increases are never welcome, particularly in the current climate, £36 per day sounds a lot but it isn't when you put it in context. If a child is in nursery from 8am until 5pm that is 9hrs which is only £4 per hour. When my child went to nursery there was the £5 fee per every minutes you were late after official closing time so this is standard practice. Don't forget as well that nurseries have overheads to cover so the longer staff have to stay, the longer heat, lights etc are on and that all needs to be paid for. I do also find it amazing that some people moan about childcare are costs but somehow manage to afford 'necessities' such as sky tv, iPhones, holidays etc. but, before Popeye has a rant at what I've said, I am only saying this is the case for SOME parents, not all. Making sure our children have the best possible care while we are at work must surely be paramount, whatever the cost but unfortunately doing it on the cheap is just not feasible.

    Report this comment

    N

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • So much for this Govt helping people back to work, when their Councils are forcing people out of work with excessive child care costs.

    Report this comment

    Farquarson-Smythe

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • .....I think the parents should be fined if they are late picking up say more than four times in a month......Should the fine be a profit making fine? Is this the way forward to financial success for all our services. What about a £5 fine for an old person taking too long to get off a bus, a £5 fine for being late for school, a £5 fine for not shutting the lid on your wheely-bin, a £5 fine for being late at the dentists, a £5 fine missing a school exam, a .......

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • If you can't afford children then don't have any. Why should the rest of us pay for their upbringing? This is a lifestyle choice - I don't buy an expensive car & then ask others to maintain it.

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • NCC at fault here for not tying the charity up in a contract which obliged them to provide the same service as parents had been receiving. Being late to collect a child can be distressing enough without being fined for it, few parents do it intentionally-only repeated instances should attract a charge. Is this yet another money making enterprise ( or at least salary generating) masquerading as a charity?

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Hi @N, is that short for @Norfolk for convenience? Sorry I haven't answered specific points because I don't feel like being drawn down the prudent v feckless debate that you and @Lynda want it to become. I want to keep focus on whether Action for Children's charge of £20 per hour is reasonable or just another profit stream. You did admit that these companies are profit driven, just like Ryanair is, so I don't see why the analogy is ridiculous. Thanks for keeping the thread going by the way.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • So much for this Govt helping people back to work, when their Councils are forcing people out of work with excessive child care costs.

    Report this comment

    Farquarson-Smythe

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • NCC are pleased to announce that Ryanair is to take over all the Surestart centres, who promise to run it at a base price that any parent can afford.....unfortunately, as in any good business, there will be a few nominal surcharges that will apply, these being.....A late parent arrival fee of £5 for every 15 minutes that your child has to be held in the school departures lounge.....A £5 fee if the child's packed lunch box doesn't comply with Ryanair lunch box max dimensions requirements....A £20 fee when you first book with Ryanair + £10 credit card fee + £20 identification badge...... A £5 fee if your child arrives without the Ryanair badge.... A £40 fee if you lose your badge and require a new one....Please note these fees and fines are nominal and not there to make Ryanair Surestart Schools more money, they are there for your benefit.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Lynda I totally agree with all of your comment. We seem to be turning into a society where some parents think that having multiple children is a right without personal responsibility and that everyone else should be prepared to fork out taxes to cover those responsibilities. As a mother of 1 who decided that having any more children would be too much of a financial strain, I don't see why I should work as hard as I do and pay my taxes towards subsidising other people's children just because they can't correlate personal and financial responsibility. And as for the irrational rantings of some of the other comments - yes nurseries are a service, but they are also a business and in order to be viable and able to provide decent facilities and quality staff they have to charge appropriate fees. I say again, £4 per hour is not a lot when you are talking about the care of your child.

    Report this comment

    N

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Thats private or charitable enterprise for you. As for fining you, only councils and plod can do that. It should be called an excess charge or extra invoice charge

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • I think the parents should be fined if they are late picking up say more than four times in a month. As for the costs, people seem to forget it is a hell of a responsibility looking after someone else's child, what price is the child worth? Perhaps it would be better for everyone if the parents thought more about having children in the first place and if they decide to have them then they are the ones who should be looking after them, can't afford to give up work? Then don't have children.

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Hello @n and @Lynda (Action for Children), did my analogy with Ryanair Surestart Schools Charity hurt a bit? Don't worry, it probably isn't your job to find ways of squeezing more money out of parents, it is simply your job to justify them and make them look reasonable. Keep up the good work.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Popeye, firstly to clarify, I have absolutely no involvement with any of the parties involved in this story. I am simply a hard working parent who is making a reasoned comment, based on my own experience. The best way to make a comment which is taken seriously is to make it in a reasoned manner and to back it up with facts. Your analogy to Ryanair is quite frankly ridiculous. I have never had to pay additional fees for anything that happened at nursery during the periods my child was booked to be there. The only time we paid additional amounts was if a trip was organised or, if I was late and they had to keep the nursery open. I imagine you have decided not to respond to the other points made my myself and Lynda because you have no logical argument to counter them.

    Report this comment

    N

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • As others have said this isn't a fine - bad choice of words. Parents contact with the provider for so many hours of childcare - it follows that if they actually use more time than that that they should expect to pay for that extra time. You wouldn't go to the greengrocer and buy 5 lb of potatoes then pop back because you realise you needed 6 lb and expect not to pay for the extra. Alsoworth pointing out to F-S that this has nothing whatever to do with "the council"

    Report this comment

    Chris Booty

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Should we fine hard pressed working parents for being late picking up the kids? What, like getting stuck in a NCC traffic survey? Councils are now trying to fly kites with some daft ideas, just to recoup some money from us, they had cut by central Government, equally the minority coalition, with their empty room charge. The universal benefit system is not going to make ends meet, according to a study out yesterday, so what else will we have to face, before we get a chance next May to vote them out?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, November 23, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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