NURSERY fees could be increased by £4 a day at Leeds City Council run children’s centres.
Council chiefs are proposing to increase childcare costs from £41-a-day to £43-a-day from January before second hike to £45-a-day next September.
Leeds City Council’s director of children’s services is due to make a decision on the proposed price rises by November 2.
The proposed price hikes have led to strong reactions on the YEP Facebook page.
Gaynor Louise Bainbridge wrote : “Making it harder for both parents to go out to work, so we can make better lives for our kids.” Council chiefs say the majority of families using the service receive a child care subsidy through government funding for children aged from two-years-old or through working tax credit. Coun Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “Although we are proposing to increase fees they will still remain below the average market cost.
Furthermore, we are trying to limit the impact on household budgets by staggering the increase so it coincides with the additional free hours of childcare that will be funded by central government from September.
“This should ensure that mums and dads in all areas of the city are able to return to work, confident that their children are learning in high quality childcare provision. ”
Coun Mulherin added: “We have maintained our commitment to children’s centres at a time when many other local authorities have closed them.”
Coun Stewart Golton, leader of Leeds City Council Lib Dem Group, said: “This increases the cost of a full time nursery place to £11,700 per year, well above the Yorkshire average.
“It is a significant extra outlay for young families in the city, who I fear are going to bear this unfair extra burden to make up for Leeds City Council’s overspend in other areas.
“There was no mention of this price hike in the budget proposals at the start of the year and I am very concerned by the way this decision has been made.
“The council has provided no justification for this decision and it appears they are trying to sneak it through in such a way that avoids the full scrutiny of the executive board.”
Coun Alan Lamb, Conservative spokesman for children’s services, said: “We recognise the value of children’s centres and early year’s provision across the city, and it is important that the council doesn’t do anything to undermine that provision which so many families rely on.
“That said, we will be looking at these proposals in detail. There will be 30 hours of free childcare, provided by the government, available to parents from September. We need to find out how these proposed increases will impact families, when taken together with the free 30 hours childcare, before we decide whether we support them or not.
“It is disappointing that the administration has announced these proposed fare increases without giving full details yet of how they will work in practice.”