CHILDMINDERS are said to be leaving the profession due to increasing costs and competition. Local Democracy Reporter JOSEPH TIMAN speaks to them about their latest challenge . . . commercial waste.

BOLTON’S childminders might have to start paying for bin collections as other businesses do.

Self-employed childminders fear this could end up costing them hundreds of pounds more every year.

Council enforcement officers have warned them that, from September, they could face fines of £5,000 if they do not dispose of their commercial waste properly.

Instead of using household bins, they would have to pay for their own waste arrangements, costing more than £200 per year, or be charged at least £90 for every visit they make to the tip.

The council said it will not be taking any action against the childminders until the issue is reviewed by a cross-party group of councillors, following complaints by an MP.

But childminders say they are uncertain about where they stand and confused about how the policy would be enforced if it goes ahead.

Josie Stockman, a who looks after children at home in Kearsley, said it is becoming harder to stay in the profession and this added cost would only make matters worse.

She said: “I don’t understand why they want us to pay all this money. We have never thought of ourselves as a business because we are so small. I can understand in nurseries, but we are such a small business.

“It’s very difficult. We don’t know any of the regulations. I just don’t know how we can apply what they are asking us to do.”

The Bolton News:

Mrs Stockman and her neighbour, Annette Dodd, said it would be impractical to separate their own rubbish from the “commercial” waste as they share meals with their children.

They say that, because some children they look after are not in nappies, they do not produce any additional waste other than food.

Mrs Stockman also questioned whether childminders who only work during term-time would have to pay all year.

She said: “It’s just confusing. We’ve been in touch with different firms to discuss how much it’s going to cost.”

Mrs Dodd, who has been in the profession since 2002, received a quote for commercial waste disposal from Bolton Council.

The local authority would charge her £236 per year compared to private companies who charge around £150.

But Mrs Stockman said the private company that gave her a quote would not take nappies.

She was also unsure whether she could recycle her commercial waste.

READ MORE: What can businesses recycle in Bolton?

Mrs Dodd, 54, said that there are many other costs faced by childminders today.

She said: “It’s not a well-paid job. We’ve all got bills to pay. We’ve got to look at the bigger issues. It’s everything else we’ve got to pay for. We’ve got to buy resources to keep up like toys, prams, car seats.

“Why are we having to pay for these bins? It’s not right. It’s another expense. That’s why childminders are dropping. There’s a number of issues with child minding: paperwork, funding. I can go on and on.”

Mrs Stockman, who has been in the job for 16 years, also said that childminders are leaving the profession.

There are currently 156 childminders in the borough.

She says increased competition in the sector, from private nurseries and afterschool clubs, is one significant factor.

She said: “We are competing all the time, which is fine – it’s good to be in a competitive market. But with these bins costs, it’s another blow.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi was contacted by some of her constituents about the issue.

The Bolton News: Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East

The Labour MP said it made little sense for childminders to use different, more expensive bins, when they do not generate any more waste than a family with young children.

She said: “The childminders with whom I spoke said that at the moment, they barely fill their domestic bins. They added that commercial bins would cost these businesses between £120 and £220 per year, and that the waste their businesses generated would be indistinguishable from domestic waste.

"Essentially, the only waste that childminders really generate is nappies, which is the same as any family with young children. It therefore made little sense why they would be required to use different, more expensive bins.

“I am really pleased to report that the council, in response to the surge of public opposition, has taken a U-Turn on this proposal. They have frozen current plans, pending an urgent policy review that will look into whether this is a good idea."

Former environmental services executive Cllr Nick Peel said that the Labour administration did not decide to start charging childminders even though it could legally do so.

He said: “It’s something that I personally don’t support. There’s a lot of sensitivity to it. My view at the time was that it’s best we stay clear of it.

“It’s something the council was never going to do and I would have blocked it but a decision never came to me. My line was, we are not going down this path.”

Cllr Anne Galloway, the newly-appointed executive cabinet member for environmental regulatory services, said the council decided not to take action against childminders regarding commercial waste after concerns were raised.

She said: “We understand that the practicalities of distinguishing business waste from personal domestic waste make it difficult for childminders to manage their disposal arrangements.

“A cross-party group of councillors will review this issue but in the meantime we will not be taking any action against these businesses.”

The Bolton News understands that the decision to charge childminders for commercial waste disposal was made by council officers, not councillors.