Published 21 June 2023

A new debt management policy to support the recovery of money owed to West Dunbartonshire schools is being introduced.

The policy will ensure the 1,219 pupils and families with debt of £47,905 will receive additional support, including signposting to the Council’s Working4U service.

A report to the Educational Services committee this week outlined the policy, which will give employees in schools clear guidelines for debt recovery.  

During the meeting, Councillors also agreed to write off £75,579.38 of historic debt for school meals including breakfast clubs, accrued before the introduction of the debt management policy, and by families who no longer have children at West Dunbartonshire schools

It was also agreed Heads of Establishments will ensure no further staff debt is accrued, noting that £589 is currently owed by education employees. To support this, ParentPay refresher training will be offered to new and existing employees.

Education establishments moved to an online payment system, ParentPay, in 2018 reducing cash handling within schools. The convenient online system helped families pay for items relating to the school day and prevented children and young people taking money to school.

Councillor Clare Steel, Convener of Educational Services, said: “Our Schools and Early Learning & Childcare Centres have robust processes in place to ensure no child goes without a meal. It is important to ensure this remains our priority. We can also offer discreet assistance to families needing financial   support and I would encourage families to contact their school or the Working4U service, where we can offer help and support.” 

Councillor John Millar, Vice Convener of Educational Services, said:  “Our staff in schools and early learning and childcare centres work hard to ensure all monies owed to the Council by families are collected where possible.  Some debts go back years and despite our best efforts, they are now deemed irrecoverable.

“We know we have many families who are struggling financially with the cost of living but we have many supports in place to help ease the financial burden and I would urge anyone in need to come forward and get help.”