The funded hours must be made available to you completely free. Providers should be able to explain clearly when their funded hours are available and the options available to you.
Providers can charge for consumables and, if a parent needs it, additional time over and above the funded hours. Consumables are items like nappies, drinks, snacks, meals, tissues, trips etc. The provider cannot make it compulsory that parents pay for consumables (parents can choose to provide these items/services themselves) or additional time (parents can choose to take up the funded hours only).
If your child is accessing the funded hours only and no additional time or consumables, parents cannot be billed for any non-refundable charges such as admin fees. Providers can charge a deposit but this must be refundable within a reasonable timescale. Providers can charge admin fees, deposits etc. as normal where parents are paying for additional time and/or consumables.
Providers have a duty to make sure that their invoices are clear and that parents can see the number of funded hours they are receiving. If you choose to pay for consumables and/or additional time, you must be able to see what you are paying for (and be able to check this with a price list). The money that providers receive from the local authority for providing the funded hours must never be netted off the total charge for the funded place.
It is really important that you are absolutely clear on what your choices are and what you are going to be charged for consumables and/or additional time. Providers should be able to explain all of this clearly to you but don’t be afraid to ask if you are not sure or you don’t understand – it is important that you understand your invoice when it is presented to you.
Parents are usually required by providers to let them know in advance if they want to leave the childcare provider – this is known as the “notice period” and is often a period of 4 weeks or more. It is important that you discuss this with your provider before you sign up to the notice period. If you fail to give your provider the required notice; you will be liable for childcare fees for the notice period even if you have been accessing only the funded hours.
Have a query or concern about your funded place?
If you believe that your child has been prevented from accessing their funded place, or that the provider is netting off the funding from their charges or that you are being billed for non-refundable charges please speak to your provider in the first instance. The provider should endeavour to resolve any issues you have as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If you have contacted your provider and are still unable to resolve your query, please complete our online form. You will need to attach evidence (emails, invoices etc.) to support your complaint.