Little Owls nursery fees to rise by five per cent

Little Owls in Armley

By David Spereall, local democracy reporter

Childcare fees at 24 council-run nurseries across Leeds will go up by five per cent in September.

The daily rate at Little Owls centres in the city will rise by £2.60 to £54.30, in a move that will affect hundreds of local families.

The council says the move is needed to cover increasing costs, which include pay rises for the 650 staff employed across its nurseries.

Of the 2,500 pre-schoolers who use the centres, only nine per cent have the daily fee paid up front by their parents. Most have the costs covered or discounted by various government-run childcare schemes, while parents claiming Universal Credit can also get money off.

The increase follows a five per cent hike last year too, which took the daily rate above the £50 threshold for the first time.

A council notice explaining the move said: “The preferred option is to increase the fees by five per cent. This reflects some of the additional costs but does not put the entire burden on parents.”

The report said that freezing the fees had not been considered because of the council’s poor financial position.

But a rise in line with current inflation levels, which are way higher than five per cent, was also ruled out.

The notice said that while such an increase would have helped Little Owls keep pace with nurseries in the private sector, it “would not be seen favourably” by parents.

The council closed four nurseries earlier this year after a review found merging some centres would save it nearly £500,000.

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