- Mr X The complainant
- Y The complainant’s daughter
Councils are required by law to secure between 570 and 1,140 hours of free childcare over no fewer than 38 weeks for qualifying children in their area. This is known as the Free Early Education Entitlement.
Mr X complained the Council has not ensured his childcare provider, a nursery, has provided fair access to a free place and has charged him a “top-up” fee. He also complained the Council has not ensured his childcare provider issues clear and transparent invoices. Mr X said he has spent money on childcare he expected to be free.
Fault found causing injustice and recommendations made.
The Council must consider the report and confirm within three months the action it has taken or proposes to take. The Council should consider the report at its full Council, Cabinet or other appropriately delegated committee of elected members and we will require evidence of this. (Local Government Act 1974, section 31(2), as amended)
To remedy the injustice caused we recommend the Council:
apologise to Mr X in writing;
pay Mr X £100 for his time and trouble in bringing his complaint as the Council did not initially investigate his concerns and referred him back to the nursery;
pay Mr X 50% of the consumables charge from January 2021 (when he first contacted the Council about his concerns) until the date Y left the nursery; and
work with the nursery to ensure it amends its invoices and receipts, so they are clear and transparent. Invoices and receipts should itemise all charges so parents can see they have received their child’s free entitlement and understand any extra charges. If any of the charges are voluntary, this should also be made clear.
Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 7 August 2023.