Charging and Remissions Policy
Issue Date : March 2023
Reviewed By: Full Governing Board
Review Date: March 2025
Roots Federation is a not for profit organisation that aims to have balanced budgets and no outstanding debts.
All schools within the Federation have funded places and fee paying day care and wrap around places (WRAP).
Fees are paid by:
• Those who have full day care places from 3 months old upwards
• Those who have additional wrap around care for funded sessions
• Those who participate in meal clubs.
• Childcare Vouchers issued through workplaces and Tax Free Childcare are accepted
• 30 hours of funded education and care are offered flexibly in term times and these can be wrapped with holiday care. • Funded two and 3 year old places can also be wrapped.
Please note that full terms and conditions are given to parents.
Charging for School Activities Policy
(Based on the guidance provided in the ‘Governors’ Guide to the Law’)
In general, no charge can be made for admitting pupils to maintained schools. Where education is provided wholly or mainly during school hours, it must be free.
However, the school may charge for activities outside of school hours where these are not a necessary part of the national curriculum.
The Headteacher or Governing Body may ask parents for a voluntary contribution towards the cost of:
• Any activity which takes place during school hours
• School equipment
• School funds generally this includes a termly request for parents of children using funded places to contribute towards snacks, malleable play materials, cooking ingredients etc.
• Replacement of nursery items wilfully damaged or lost by a child
The contribution must be genuinely voluntary and the pupils of parents who are unable or unwilling to contribute will not be discriminated against.
Where there are not enough voluntary contributions to make the activity possible, and there is no way to make up the shortfall, then it will be cancelled.
Families qualifying for remission or help with charges
In order to remove financial barriers from disadvantaged pupils, the governing body has agreed that some activities and visits where charges can legally be made will be offered at no charge or a reduced charge to parents in particular circumstances. This remissions policy sets out the circumstances in which charges will be waived
Where an activity makes an unexpected surplus the school will consider making a refund. In accordance with the guidance set out within the HCC Financial Handbook for Schools’, Roots Federation will make a refund where the surplus is either:
• 5% or more of the total cost per person, or
• £5 or more per person
Surpluses will be reimbursed in ‘round amounts’ only, e.g. £3 not £3.29.
Where a refund is offered, the accompanying letter will indicate that ‘a surplus of £x has been made and that if the parent/guardian would like to take advantage of it, they should contact the office by a date two weeks in advance. If the school is not contacted by that date it will assume that the refund has been donated to school funds.’ All refunds will be made in cheque format in order to maintain a clear audit trail. Refunds donated to the school will be transferred to an appropriate budget heading, following approval from the Headteacher.
Where an activity makes a surplus, refunds will be issued by the Office Manager, in accordance with the school’s charging and refunds policy. Any remaining balance is transferred to school funds and is used to support students on future activities.
Where an activity results in a deficit, this will be made up from the school’s fund account.
Debt Recovery Policy
Roots Federation will take all reasonable measures to vigorously collect debts as part of its management of public funds. A debt will be written off only after all reasonable measures (commensurate with the size and nature of the debt) have been taken to recover it.
Roots Federation Debt Recovery policy will observe the relevant financial regulations and guidance set out in the Financial Handbook for Schools and any other legal requirements. In particular:
o The headteacher will consider and write off bad debts in consultation with the CoG up to a value of £100
o the Governing Body will not write-off any debt belonging to the School or Day care which exceeds the figure of £500. Any sums above this will be referred to the Director of Children’s Services for approval and the formal agreement of the County Council’s Finance Director obtained before writing-off. (If any debtor has a number of debts which together exceed the write-off limit then these will be treated as a total amount).
o A formal record of any debts written off will be maintained and this will be retained for 7 years o Roots Federation will initiate legal action to recover debts where this is deemed in the best interest of the school in consultation with legal representatives.
o The school will NOT write-off any debt belonging to the County Council or another party, e.g. debts for school meals. If in doubt as to the appropriate action to collect any such debts the school will seek advice promptly from officers of the County Council.
School staff are expected to follow 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. 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. contributions for a school trip should be received by, payment for items purchased should be sent to the school office by, etc.
The Headteacher should determine what the reasonable ‘credit period’ is if this is not otherwise specified.
Initial reminders may be informal and made either in person (when a parent comes to collect/drop off the child) or by telephone. Normally, the day care manager or admin assistant will undertake this having built up a good relationship with the parents.
First reminder letter
A formal reminder letter should be issued by the Headteacher after 2 weeks from any informal reminder/date of supply. If action is to proceed further, it is necessary to prove that all reasonable attempts have been made to recover the debt, and that these attempts have been made in a timely manner, i.e. at the time that the debt first became overdue.
Second reminder letter
A second reminder letter will be issued 2 weeks after the first reminder letter by the Day Care Manager e.g. for fees or by the Office Manager for school debts. In respect of Day Care, if advice and reasonable adjustments are not met then the Day Care place may be withdrawn.
Third Reminder Letter
A third reminder letter will be issued 2 weeks after the second reminder letter by the Headteacher.
Fourth Reminder Letter
A fourth reminder letter will be issued 2 weeks after the third reminder letter by the CoG.
Using reminder letters
Should a debt need to be taken beyond four reminder letters, formal written evidence may have to be produced. It is therefore important that written reminders are sent. Details of all reminders, whether verbal or in writing, should be maintained. Where a letter is issued, a copy must be retained on file.
Failure to respond to reminders/settle a debt
If no response is received from the reminders issued, a letter will be sent to the debtor advising them that the matter will be referred to the County Secretary’s Department, Legal and Administration. At the discretion of the Governing Body the debtor may be advised that they will be required to pay in advance for all future supplies or the supply will no longer be available to them. This decision and its basis will be recorded.
Negotiation of repayment terms
Debtors are expected to settle the amount owed by a single payment as soon as possible after receiving the first reminder letter
If a debtor asks for ‘repayment terms’ these may be negotiated at the discretion of the Headteacher. A record of all such agreements will be kept. A letter will be issued to the debtor confirming the agreed terms.
The settlement period should be the shortest that is judged reasonable.
The Headteacher will decide whether any debtor who has been granted extended settlement terms will not be offered any further ‘credit’ and will be required to pay in advance in future.
Costs of debt recovery
Where the school incurs material additional costs in recovering a debt then the Governing Body 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 Headteacher will ensure that the level of outstanding debt is known / can be determined at any time.
The Governing Body will review the level of outstanding debts regularly to determine whether this level is acceptable and whether action to recover debts is effective.
(Monitoring of outstanding debts may be differentiated by type, e.g. if Day Care debts prove more of a problem than those for meal clubs then the frequency and degree of monitoring should reflect this).
The Headteacher will:
o Consider and write off bad debts in consultation with the CoG up to a value of £100
o Write-off of any debt requiring the written approval of the Governing Body up to a maximum of £500.
o Keep a record of the write-off, the reason for it, and the approval for it, this to be retained for 7 years.
o Follow up any debt belonging to the County Council, it will be referred to the appropriate officer for consideration/action without delay once the school has taken reasonable measures to collect the debt (i.e. has followed the reminder notification procedures set out above)