Woodthorpe Primary School

Welcome toWoodthorpe Primary School

Debtors Policy

Statement of intent

South Bank Multi Academy Trust (SBMAT) is committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all pupils, regardless of financial circumstances, and has established policies and procedures to ensure that no child is discriminated against by offering of school trips, activities and educational extras throughout the schools.

While this is the case, SBMAT must have a policy in place to ensure the repayment and recuperation of any outstanding debts incurred by the school on behalf of a pupil. The school must take all reasonable measures to vigorously collect debts as part of its management of public funds. A debt will be written off, only after all reasonable measures (commensurate with the size and nature of the debt) have been taken to recover it.

Each case is to be treated individually and the circumstances that have led to the outstanding debt will be taken into account to determine the best course of action, and whether it is fair and reasonable to pursue the debt in its entirety if at all. SBMAT is committed to adhering to legal requirements regarding charging for school food, activities and materials, and meeting all statutory guidance provided by the DfE.

1. Legal framework

1.1       This policy will adhere to the relevant legislation and statutory guidance surrounding school payments and debt recovery, including the following:

  • DfE (2018) ‘Charging for school activities’
  • DfE (2018) ‘Schemes for financing schools’
  • DfE (2017) ‘Governance handbook’

2. Roles and responsibilities

2.1       As a general rule, to avoid incurring debts, payments for materials and services provided by the each school should be collected in advance or at the point of sale.

2.2       Any person(s) involved in the monitoring, recording and pursuing of debts owed to any of SBMAT’s schools must formally record any information gathered and actions taken – data which is to be kept by the school for a period of seven years.

2.3       The School:

  • Will regularly review details of its debts and what recovery action is needed in line with the school procedure set out in Appendix 1.
  • Must be consulted if legal services are to be employed for debt recovery.
  • Will adhere to the privacy rights of pupils and their guardians in all cases.
  • May decide to leave a case of debt recovery to the decision of Headteacher.

2.4       The Headteacher / School Business Manager will ensure:

  • Debt reminders are recorded, and retained for a period of seven years – dates and times of letters, phone calls, emails, conversations or any other correspondence.
  • Instances of debt are judged on an individual basis, with consideration of the nature of the debt and the circumstances of the family involved.
  • The privacy of the pupil and their family will be protected by all staff.
  • The level of outstanding debt owed to the school can be determined at short notice.

2.5       The SBMAT:

  • Will implement procedures set out in Appendix 2.
  • Will liaise with the School Headteacher before taking legal action against a debtor.
  • Will retain any documentation in relation the debt recovery in line with the Trust retention policy (current financial year plus 6 years).
  • Retain confidentiality of the debtor’s details unless required to divulge by legal process.

3. Acceptable ‘credit period’

3.1       Where possible payment periods should be negotiated with the debtor and the Headteacher.

3.2       Lines of communication should remain open at all times between the debtor and the School, to increase chance of payment and reduce the need to escalate the recovery process.  

3.3       This period of time may vary, at the discretion of the Headteacher dependent on the nature and size of the debt.

4. Declaring outstanding debt levels

4.1       The outstanding debt level in school will be reviewed by the Trust’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO) and the School Business Manager.

4.2       The review will determine if current debt levels are acceptable and under control using the school recovery procedure outline in Appendix 1.

4.3       If the debt is not deemed under control and / or the school recovery process has been exhausted then consideration will be given to escalating the debt recovery procedure to SBMAT level.  

5. Debt recovery procedures

5.1       Where there is an outstanding payment yet to be received and the acceptable credit period has been surpassed, the debt recovery processes will be followed as outline in Appendix 1 and 2 for the school and SBMAT respectively.

5.2       At each interval invoices and letters will be generated outlining the value and reason for the debt and sent to the debtor’s home address.

5.3       Upon creating the invoice and stipulating a date on which it must be paid by, there is acknowledgement from the school that the debt has been set up.

6. Failure to respond

6.1       After the processes in Appendix 1 have been exhausted and the debtor has failed to respond, a final letter will be sent to the debtor informing them that the debt recovery process has been escalated to SBMAT level.

6.2       If at this point, the debtor makes contact with the school and engages in communication to arrange payment of the debt, the escalation will be temporarily placed on hold and the debtor will be made aware of this verbally and followed up in writing.

6.3      If at any point after this time the debtor withholds payment without informing the school and giving sufficient reason, and fails to respond to repeated attempts by the school to contact them to discuss the situation; the debt will resume the escalation process to SBMAT level. The debtor will be informed of this through letter.

7. Exceptional circumstances and remissions

7.1       The Headteacher may decide to waive or reduce the outstanding debt based upon the financial difficulty of the family involved. This decision may be based upon debtors in receipt of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided that they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if they apply on or after 1 April 2018, their household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits that they receive)

8. Debt recovery costs

8.1       In addition to the remission allowances outlined in section 7, it may be advisable to waive or partially waive debts where it is deemed that it does not make financial sense to continue allocating time and resources to pursuing.


Debtors Policy