Childcare centre charged with misrepresenting government subsidy

The pre-school and its former director and manager face 14 charges. Photo / iStock
The pre-school and its former director and manager face 14 charges. Photo / iStock

An Auckland childcare centre faces a raft of charges alleging misrepresentation of the government subsidy it was receiving to parents.

Kowhai Montessori Pre-School Limited, which operated in Orakei until it was sold last year, and its former director and manager Rebecca Brindle, face 14 charges under the Fair Trading Act relating to five invoices and two letters sent to parents between October 2013 and October 2014.

Kowhai and Brindle entered not guilty pleas this morning and are to next appear in the Auckland District Court on 27 September.

The Commerce Commission alleges that in October 2013 Kowhai told parents that the Government subsidy as part of its 20 hours free ECE scheme for children aged to three of five was only $4.70 toward the centre's set hourly rate of $11.70, which meant parents had to top it up by an additional $7.

This amount was repeated in a letter in May 2014 when the Montessori's rate was increased to $13.70 and parents were told their contribution was increasing to $9 an hour.

However the Commerce Commission said this was incorrect and the childcare centre was receiving $11.33 per hour under the 20 hours free scheme and additional funding under the Plus 10 hours ECE scheme.

The centre wrote to parents again in September 2014 claiming they would only have to subsidise the hourly rate by $8 due to the government announcing extra funding which brought its contribution to $5.70 an hour.

The Commission Claims the subsidy it was receiving was actually $11.43 an hour.

Kowhai Montessori Pre-School on Sudeley St now operates under a new name and new management.

- NZ Herald

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