Charging, Remissions and Debt Collection Policy


Policy Aim

This policy aims to inform parents and carers about the charges we make for a variety of services we offer and any goods we may sell. It also provides information about the school fund. It includes details about charges, remittances and collection of monies for services. Please note that all charges listed below are subject to review at any time.

Charging
Dinner money

Dinner money is chargeable on a daily basis unless the child is entitled to Free School Meals.  Parents are informed about the cost of a meal when their child starts nursery school. School meals are currently charged at £2.25 per day. Payments are made weekly by cash or cheque at the school office.

Breakfast and After School Club

Breakfast and After School Clubs will be available at Ethelred from September 2017, offering wrap-around care for your child from 8.00am until 6.00pm.

Top-up fees for additional hours to the Nursery Education Fund (NEF) and Early Learning Offer (ELO) funded provision

Nursery provision is free for the first 15 hours (part time) or 30 hours (full-time) for those children who are eligible. Thereafter, additional hours are chargeable on a ‘per’ session or hourly basis (top-up). Sessions are booked in advance and arrangements for booking and payment are detailed in the contract for such services.  Fees are currently charged at £8.00 per hour and can be made in cash, by cheque, childcare vouchers or through direct payment (BACS).

School Fund

School fund is a voluntary payment made by parents/carers and it is used to support a variety of activities including:

  • Educational visits to a range of venues such as farms, theatres, parks, museums, art galleries etc. School fund contributes to transport costs and packed lunches
  • Performers and visitors to the school such as artists, dancers, storytellers and musicians etc.
  • Resources for workshops
  • Cooking activities
  • Additional fruit                                                                                                                  

All children benefit from the use of the school fund whether parents/carers make contributions or not. Information about school fund expenditure is included in the newsletter to parents, and parents are informed about the school fund on the home visit and by regular text reminders. Payments are made on a weekly, monthly or termly basis by cash or cheque.  Contributions are £1.00 weekly.

Remissions

Where the parent of a child is in receipt of a qualifying state benefit(s) or where there are other special circumstances including hardship, the Governing Body will consider remitting charges in part or in full.

The Governing Body invites parents to apply in writing, in the strictest confidence, for the remission of charges in part or in full. The Headteacher will authorise any remission in consultation with the Chair of Governors. These will be notified to the Finance and Resources Committee on a termly basis.

Debt and Debt Recovery

The school will take all reasonable steps to collect debts as part of its duty to manage public funds effectively. A debt will only be written off after all reasonable measures (commensurate with the size and nature of the debt) have been taken to recover it.

The School and Centre’s debt recovery policy will observe the relevant financial regulations and guidance set out in the Lambeth Schools Financial Procedures Manual and any other legal requirements.

The school will not write off any debt belonging to Lambeth Council or another party. If in doubt as to the appropriate action to take to collect any such debts, the school will seek advice promptly from officers of Lambeth Council. Procedures for writing off debts are included in the school’s Finance Policy.

Debt collection procedures

School staff are expected to adhere to the following procedures to secure the collection of all debts.

  • Recording of goods or services supplied where payment is not received in advance or ‘at the point of sale’
  • A record will be kept of all such supplies that details what was supplied, the value, the date(s) and the identity of the ‘debtor’, e.g. child, parent, hirer etc.
  • Where invoices are raised, these should state the date by which payment is due
  • In all other cases. Correspondence with parents, etc. should indicate the maximum period that the school regards as reasonable before payment is overdue, e.g. payment for items purchased should be paid at the school office by.....(agreed date)

The following procedures will be followed when debt starts to accumulate:

  • Individual agreements will be made to accommodate specific circumstances
  • Admin staff will use their discretion and knowledge of individual families in the first instance and record any such arrangements.  If these are not followed and office staff have any concerns, they will immediately inform the SAO/ Headteacher to review what action to take.
Dinner Money
  • Informal reminder issued when outstanding monies reach £10 for full-time children or two weeks for part-time children. This will be made either in person(when a parent/carer comes to collect/drop off the child) or by telephone/text
  • Reminder letter 1 will be issued one week after the informal reminder or following non-compliance with the individual arrangement
  • Meeting with the SAO or Headteacher two weeks afterwards where a second reminder letter (2) is issued which will include details of the settlement period that has been agreed with the parents. This will include advice that the child will be at risk of not being able to stay for lunch from a specific date until the debt has been cleared.  If payment is not then made, the parent/carer will be reminded to collect their child for lunch in line with the letter
Top Up Fees

Procedure for parents who book regularly and have a good payment record

  • Informal reminder made after two weeks
  • Reminder letter 1 – one week following the informal reminder and the withdrawal of the service
  • Meeting with the SAO or Headteacher two weeks later  and issue of letter 2

Procedure for parents who book on an ad-hoc basis

  • Informal reminder at the end of the week and no further bookings to be made until payment is received, again informing the Headteacher prior to any decision to withdraw the service
  • Reminder letter 1 – one week following the informal reminder
  • Meeting with the SAO or Headteacher two weeks later and issue of letter 2

Should a debt need to be taken beyond two reminder letters, formal written evidence may have to be produced.  It is therefore important that at least one, but preferably two written reminders are sent.  Details of all reminders, whether verbal or in writing, should be recorded.  Where a letter is issued, a copy must be retained on file.

Costs of debt recovery

Where the school incurs material additional costs in recovering a debt, the Finance and Resources Committee will decide whether to seek to recover such costs from the debtor.  This decision and its basis will be recorded. The debtor will be formally advised that they will be required to pay the additional costs incurred by the school in recovering the debt.

Reporting of outstanding debt levels

The SAO will ensure that the level of outstanding debt is known and can be determined at any time.

The SAO will present a list of outstanding and written-off debts to the Finance and Resources Committee who will review this every term to determine whether this level is acceptable and whether action to recover debts is effective.

Documents consulted/information source/related documents:
  • Model policies from other Lambeth schools

  • Finance policy

  • Lambeth Schools Financial Procedures Manual

 

Policy review period is annually:

Adopted :        Autumn 2015

Next review:    Autumn 2016