Agenda item

30 Hour Free Childcare Offer




To scrutinise the 30 Hour Free Childcare Offer and the proposed timetable for implementation.


Key Issues:


·         The Welsh Government has committed to full implementation of the Childcare Offer by September 2020.


·         There are seven local authorities that have implemented the Childcare Offer in parts of their local authority from September 2017. These are Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Swansea local authorities. Rhondda Cynon-Taff, Flintshire and Anglesey local authorities working in partnership with Gwynedd.


·         Budget permitting, the Welsh Government would like to see as many local authorities as possible joining the scheme over the next two years, prior to full implementation in September 2020.


·         The bid that was submitted by Monmouthshire in January 2018 was to become an early implementer in September 2018 and to rollout the Childcare Offer in all areas of Monmouthshire simultaneously. However, implementation could be delayed to commence in January 2019. Confirmation is awaited regarding this matter. Initial discussions with Welsh Government were positive and they were of the same opinion to bring the whole authority on board at the same time, based on the relatively low number of three and four year old children in Monmouthshire.


·         With regard to the delivery of finance for this scheme, Welsh Government has agreed that some authorities will be ‘delivery authorities’ and other authorities will be ‘engagement authorities’.  Monmouthshire County Council will be an engagement authority with Newport City Council being the delivery authority on Monmouthshire’s behalf.


·         The Childcare Offer is 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for eligible working parents of three and four year old children, for up to 48 weeks of the year. The 30 hours will consist of a combination of the existing Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) provision open to all three and four year old children and the additional funded childcare for eligible families.


·         Parents will become eligible the term following their child’s 3rd birthday until they commence full time education. In order to be eligible, both parents or the sole parent in a lone parent family, must earn at least equivalent to 16 hours a week at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, and no more than £100,000 per parent.


·         The childcare can be accessed in any setting that is registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). During term time, 10 hours are allocated for early education and this must be taken up at either a local authority maintained nursery or an approved non-maintained provider of early education.


·         There are currently 12 local authority maintained nurseries and 28 approved non-maintained providers of early education in Monmouthshire. Take up of places in the summer term is usually between 76% and 80% and there are currently surplus places in all areas of the county.


·         The Childcare Sufficiency Assessment completed in March 2017 suggested that there are sufficient childcare places to meet the current demand and highlighted any gaps in provision. Out of School Childcare Grant funding has been allocated to address these issues and to develop additional childcare provision.


Member Scrutiny:


·         The requirement to ensure there is sufficient child care provision will continue to sit with Monmouthshire County Council.


·         The remit of a delivery / engagement authorities has yet to be finalised by Welsh Government.


·         Concern was expressed regarding the small number of charity run nurseries and the additional burden that these nurseries are expected to take on. Also, this scheme will only apply to both parents working in excess of 16 hours per week. Concern was expressed that parents who do not meet the criteria will lose out.  It was noted that officers are looking at the places wider than just the numbers of eligible parents.


·         Currently, Monmouthshire has 12 local authority run nurseries and 28 non-maintained nurseries.  The numbers of children accessing both provisions equates to a relatively even split between the two provisions with non–maintained settings receiving slightly more children overall.


·         Over the previous two years, the numbers applying for local authority nursery provision has reduced as parents require more than the 2.5 hours provided. Many non-maintained nurseries provide more than the 2.5 hours.  With regard to schools, they are not in a position to provide the childcare element because they are not registered childcare provisions.


·         As well as the childcare offer, before and after school provision is provided for school age children.  Most Monmouthshire schools provide before school provision and many schools provide after school provision. Nursery children can access these provisions.


·         The English model differs to the Welsh model.  The Welsh model is considered to be a better model.  In England, funding goes to the local authorities and they decide how much funding to be allocated.  On average, around £3.00 per hour is paid in England.  In Wales, the funding is set at £4.50 per hour.



Committee’s Conclusion:


We resolved that the Chief Officer for Children and Young People reports back to the Select Committee when further information regarding the remit of delivery / engagement authorities has been finalised by Welsh Government.



Supporting documents: