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Agenda item

Capital Strategy for Early Years Provision

Report of the Chief Executive

 

Minutes:

Cllr Dominic Muns, Portfolio holder for Education presented a report which outlined the reasons that capital is required to replace old and unsustainable temporary buildings currently leased by a number of childcare providers, and a new policy to support the investment.

 

Cllr Muns reported that the early years settings enabled the Council to meet its statutory duty to ensure sufficient childcare within Wiltshire. A new policy is required to agree how to replace 23 temporary units that are currently leased to early years providers. Replacing these buildings will reduce the Council’s financial liability in the longer term and safeguard the 702 early years places currently provided by these organisations, enabling the Council to continue meeting its statutory duty to ensure there is sufficient childcare within the county.

 

Cllr Ian Thorn commented on the Council’s liability beyond the 10-year contribution period, the providers ability to raise funds, the Council’s role in providing funds and the length of lease arrangements between the Council and providers. In response, the Leader, Cllr Muns and officers explained that the existing providers are responsible for replacing the building and the statutory duty to provide early years childcare is with the Council, the Council was confident that providers had the ability to raise any necessary funds over the 10-year replacement period, in the event that a provider was not able to raise sufficient funds, the Council would consider each case on its individual merits. A written response would be provided in relation to the comment on lease arrangements between the Council and the provider.

 

Cllr Gavin Grant commented on the consultation undertaken with providers, the state of the marketplace, future monitoring of the replacement programme and the potential for use of S106 monies towards the provision of replacement buildings. In response, Cllr Muns and officers explained that providers had been consulted and had expressed their support for the proposals, the marketplace provided new opportunities for some providers whilst others would choose to not continue providing the service, the replacement programme would be closely monitored by officers, and S106 monies would be relevant for new demand rather than existing demand and would be factored into any planning development should there be a change in demand for places in a particular area.

 

Resolved:

 

  1. To agree a policy to contribute towards the cost of replacing 23 existing building over a 10-year period assuming all other available options are explored such as other private landlords or maintained schools in the community area who could, due to falling birth rates have unused classroom space.

 

  1. To agree that the future liability of the maintaining and further replacement or enhancement of the building would be the responsibility of the early years childcare provider

 

  1. To agree to a maximum contribution of 25% of the capital cost of a new building, (based on maximum total place funding of £24,382 per existing place) however, this will be limited to the number of places required at the time of application

 

  1. To delegate any further decisions relating to this matter to the Director of Procurement and Commissioning in consultation with the Director for Education & Skills and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children, Education, and Skills

 

Reason for decisions:

 

Early years settings provide essential childcare places to meet the demand from families and children. Buildings leased to providers by the Council are required in order to support this demand. Without ongoing investment, the Council will fail to meet its statutory duty in providing sufficient childcare places within Wiltshire, and children could be without early years education places to meet their needs

 

 

Supporting documents:

 

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