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Education Politics Rhondda Cynon Taf South Wales

Consultation launches on childcare charge idea before school breakfast clubs

THE COUNCIL is asking people for their views on plans to charge for the childcare provided before school breakfast clubs in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The council is considering introducing a £1 a day charge for the childcare provided at primary and special schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf before the free breakfast clubs.

Under the proposals, it would continue to provide the breakfast clubs themselves for free which typically run between 8.30am and 9am each morning.

Cabinet has agreed to consult on introducing a charge for the discretionary element of childcare provision, typically offered between 8am and 8.30am before the free breakfast is provided.

The proposal is to introduce a fee of £1 per day (or £60 for a full term) for the extra half-hour of childcare provision that is currently in place.

Children who are eligible for free school meals would be exempt from any charge under the proposal and the council said the income generated would be re-invested into schools funding, to offset cost pressures.

The council said the pre-school day childcare proposals would in no way affect pupils’ access to breakfast club and a healthy breakfast free of charge, which will remain available for all pupils from nursery to Year 6 in the 30-minute period before school starts.

After agreement from cabinet on Monday, November 20, a public consultation on the proposal will run for six weeks from November 27 to January 8 and, if agreed, the change could be implemented from April 2024.

The consultation will also look for people’s views on other possible concessions to the £1 charge – such as families with more than one child using the provision.

The cabinet report said that the move could generate an estimated annual income in a full year of £495,000.

The council’s chief executive Paul Mee said: “It’s important to note that the pre-school day childcare proposals will in no way affect pupils’ access to breakfast clubs – which will remain available for all pupils from Nursery to Year 6 in the 30-minute period before school starts.

“The proposed £1 charge relates to a period of childcare offered by some schools before school starts, and the proposals would formalise this in a 30-minute period before breakfast club. Four other councils in Wales already charge for a similar service, and several others are currently considering it.”

Cabinet member for education Councillor Rhys Lewis said the council recognises the significant value breakfast clubs hold and their popularity but there is a need to review all areas where they provide a service outside of their statutory duties and he mentioned the significant funding pressures the council is facing as well as that the demand and cost of breakfast clubs have increased in recent years.

He said the £1 charge compares favourably to the private sector and welcomed the fact that income generated will be reinvested into school funding.

The council leader, Councillor Andrew Morgan, said other councils are looking at this and said it would raise around £500,000 for schools who are facing budget pressures.

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