Longshaw Nursery and Children’s Centre has been criticised by parents over their new policy which, as of next month, asks for £4 a day if their child brings a packed lunch.

Currently, the Blackburn centre charges £6 for providing hot lunches – up 50p from the price they used to charge.   

Parents were warned about the new packed lunch charges in a letter which was sent out three weeks ago. However, some families have reacted by saying that they are ‘disgusted’ by the new plans.

Concerns have been raised over parents potentially having to pay an additional £80 in meal fees per month, which could be unaffordable for those on low income.

One grandmother, whose three-year-old granddaughter attends the centre, said: “How can you justify that kind of money? Paying £4 for your own packed lunch is insulting.”

Mum-of-two Nicola Walker said: “I think this is really disgusting. Some parents can’t afford to pay that much a day.”

A spokesperson from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council said: “Longshaw Nursery has provided extended services for a number of years. These services are on top of the free early education entitlement and have always attracted a charge.

“The charges are in line with other similar local provision and in line with market forces. All nurseries are entitled to charge for services above and beyond the free early educational entitlement.

“The cost of services delivered on top of the free funded early education entitlement need to be met.”

He added: “The income generated from the charges will pay for the service to be delivered and will include staffing costs, premises costs and meals.”

Jessica Byrne, the council’s head of education and schools, said: “Longshaw Nursery School are not charging £6 for lunch.

“Charges relate to the provision of a childcare session and if required the provision of a hot meal – £4 for lunchtime childcare if parents choose to bring a packed lunch; £6 for lunchtime childcare including a hot meal.

“Some two-year-old children and all three- and four-year-old children can access up to a maximum of 570 hours of free early education a year. Some children may also qualify for up to 30 hours of free early education per week (equivalent to 1140 hours a year).”

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