Controversial Sefton childcare funding agreement that may destroy facilities

6th November 2015

Have you signed it?

Sefton Council have recently sent out a new agreement to Early Years providers. This agreement was dated 8th October 2015 and all providers were expected to sign it and send it back by the 30th October 2015.

On reading this agreement Catherine Regan from Pine Pixies Pre-school in Formby checked with her insurance company to see if all was satisfactory before signing. Catherine’s insurance company advised that she would have to take out a ‘separate’ policy to meet this agreement. It would cost an extra £1,590.00 in order to meet the Sefton- written agreement. Considering providers were only given ‘one month’ from receiving the agreement to signing it, or the council would delay paying any more funding, Catherine felt this was grossly unfair. Her normal annual insurance policy was nowhere near half this amount.

Catherine contacted people from Sefton Early Years and explained her concerns that this would inevitably lead to many childcare settings closing down. She received an email yesterday from Sefton Council brusquely stating, “I have raised this and this agreement is accurate.” Considering Catherine had been at her wits end for over a week trying to sort this out, the reply failed to alleviate her deep concerns.  She alerted other providers who contacted Sefton and the following Council response advised…

Further to the concerns raised around the amount of insurance cover being required for professional indemnity I have now been in touch with the legal department.  The figures currently within the SLA are council standards; there is some possibility that following a risk assessment from the client department that the amount could be reduced.  The suggestion from legal is that if you are able to forward over your current Professional indemnity policy then they will consider what it covers and review the way forward”.

Catherine has now liaised with three local councillors (Tony Dawson, Pat Keith and Haydn Preece). Catherine will contact other leading childcare professionals to ensure this full agreement is checked before any settings sign it.

She has kindly requested that any settings that have signed this ‘without’ realising the unfair implications placed upon them are appropriately informed and their agreements immediately amended. Catherine also requested that settings are given time for all settings to check this contract legally before being press-ganged into signing it.

This is the second time that childcare settings have been asked by Sefton to sign a proposed yet unfair agreement; this matter needs to be looked into so a third time does not happen. It’s most unprofessional of Sefton Legal department to send this out; seemingly knowing ‘nothing’ about the legally binding contract they are writing about.

Catherine asks all childcare settings and childminders to check that their contracts are appropriate to their specialist needs and fair, before signing.

One supportive Southport councillor, Pat Keith, gave this comment about the insurance portion of the agreement:

It’s a concern for all childcare providers and could be the kiss of death for Childminders who access the funding as the cost is so prohibitive.”

Do you provide Early Years childcare? Have you received this Sefton agreement, if so you need to check it out fast?

For more info please contact Catherine Regan


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