63 jobs on the line as five day care nurseries face the axe

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THE council has been subsidising children’s day care places in some of its nurseries to the tune of up to £4,400 per child.

But that will come to an end in 2014 – along with 63 jobs – if the Lib-Lab coalition budget is approved.

The council expects to reduce its staffing and other costs by £443,000 by ceasing to provide day care in five children’s centres.

But the centres, which also provide nursery care, are not earmarked for closure, according to children and young people’s spokeswoman, Coun Megan Swift, who said she wanted to reassure parents and staff.

“The cabinet has been very clear, this year and last, that it has no intention of closing any children’s centre, which we believe do a very valuable job for families in Calderdale,” said Coun Swift (Lab, Town).

The spending plan tabled by Calderdale Council Cabinet says: “The council is subsiding day care in areas where there are sufficient places with private, voluntary and independent sector providers.

“The subsidy ranges from £1,449 to £4,404 per child and is not offered to any other provider.”

Due to the high cost of salaries and associated costs, daycare provided by the council cannot break even without charging above the market rate.

If charges were raised, daycare in some children’s centres “would become unsustainable.”

The centres where day care services are under threat are Wellholme Park, Brighouse, which recently got an outstanding Ofsted report, Field Lane, Rastrick, New Road, Sowerby Bridge, Elland and Todmorden.

Children’s centres were set up to help meet the needs of the most disadvantaged families rather than those who just require a nursery place.

Council leaders say they will carry out extensive consultation and the earliest closure date would be March 2014.

Eleven school truancy officers could lose their jobs next year a result of council spending cuts which would save £214,000 a year by 2014.

Instead, it would be left up to groups of schools to employ their own staff to prosecute parents whose children fail to attend school regularly.

The council will continue to provide a core service for council controlled schools.