Nursery managers have raised urgent concerns about cashflow after being told their lump payment for the entire summer will be delayed by up to a week due to an IT 'system error'.
The Early Years Payments are given to 580 nurseries, child minders and anyone else in Northamptonshire whose customers are eligible for Government childcare funding, covering costs for looking after each child.
Managers had expected payment last Friday (June 9) or tomorrow (Tuesday, June 13) . But that looks likely to slip to Wednesday (June 14) as IT teams at County Hall battle to sort out the problem.
However, nursery staff are unhappy at the prospect of even a small delay. The summer term is the largest of the three funding terms as it is the longest and therefore carries the most amount of funded hours, up to 242. Each hour for 3-5 year olds is worth at least £4 and for qualifying two year olds is £5, making each non-payment up to £968 and £1,210 per child respectively.
With some settings having up to 80 children, the potential shortfall is more than £80,000 per nursery in some cases, with bills and other overheads needing to be addressed.
One manager said: "Some nurseries pay their staff weekly so there exists the possibility that some people aren’t going to get paid this week.
"For childminders who work at home (as they do) this is quite possibly their only form of income."
A Northamptonshire County Council spokeswoman said: “The [official] deadline for receipt of the summer payment to early years providers is Tuesday (June 13th).
"However, there is a possibility the payment will be delayed by a couple of days due to an unavoidable technical issue.
"We sincerely apologise for the delay and would like to reassure providers that we are doing everything we can to issue the payments as quickly as possible.”