Notts mum should be refunded nursery charges following Ombudsman investigation
Nottinghamshire County Council has been told to repay a mum half the additional charges she paid for nearly two years because it did not properly oversee a nursery’s charging policy.
The child should have received 30 hours a week free under the national free early education entitlement scheme, but the mum complained she was given no option but to pay for ‘consumables’ and the nursery’s invoicing was not clear or transparent on this matter.
She asked the council to investigate, and it did identify some problems with the way the nursery was charging parents and asked the nursery to amend its terms. However, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s investigation into the mum’s complaint found the council’s own investigation did not do enough to get to the bottom of the problem.
The council did not seek to resolve the matter for the mum, including getting the losses she suffered reimbursed. The Ombudsman also found the council did not do enough to prevent the issues reoccurring by ensuring the nursery met its Local Provider Agreement terms.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“In this case the council did not do enough to work with the mum and the nursery to resolve the case, and instead simply referred her complaint back to the nursery.
“It is the council’s duty to work with providers to ensure their invoices and receipts are clear, transparent and itemised.
“I now ask the council to consider my report at the highest level to ensure it learns from this complaint so other parents are not disadvantaged in a similar way.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council should pay the mum a combined £200 for the time and trouble and distress felt.
It should also refund half the additional charges the mum has paid between January 2020 to the date her child left the nursery in February 2022.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council should review the nursery’s policies and practices to ensure it complies with the council’s provider agreement.
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