Agenda Item No. 14

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  16th July 2018

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills

 

Welsh Government 30 hour Childcare Offer; working in partnership with Cardiff Council

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To inform Cabinet of the Welsh Government's 30 Hour Childcare Offer for 3 and 4 year olds ("the Childcare Offer") and the proposed partnership working arrangements with Cardiff Council.

Recommendations

  1. To seek Cabinet approval for the Vale of Glamorgan Council to become an Early Implementer Local Authority from September 2019.
  2. To seek Cabinet approval for Cardiff Council to act as the Delivery Authority and the Vale of Glamorgan Council as the "Engagement Authority" as per Welsh Government's guidance.
  3. To authorise entry into a Service Level Agreement with Cardiff County Council to act as the delivery authority on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan in respect of the 30 hour Childcare Offer.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To implement Welsh Government's 30 Hour Childcare Offer to support families in the Vale of Glamorgan.
  2. To progress Welsh Government's request to work with Cardiff Council to implement the rollout of the Childcare Offer in the Vale of Glamorgan in September 2019.
  3. To gain Cabinet approval for entry into Service Level Agreement arrangements to support the proposed arrangements between Cardiff County Council and the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Background

  1. The Welsh Government's 2016-2021 Programme for Government, 'Taking Wales Forward', identifies the "Free Childcare Offer" as one of its main pledges.
  2. Implementation of the free Childcare Offer is being implemented on a phased basis within and across local authorities.  This means that as each Local Authority adopts the scheme it will initially only operate in parts of that Authority area, over time the provision will then be expanded to eventually include the whole Local Authority area.  Welsh Government intends to achieve full coverage across all local authority areas by the end of the Assembly term (2020-2021).
  3. The Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to "secure as far as is practically reasonable, sufficient childcare for working parents in their area".  Local Authorities are required to complete a Childcare Sufficiency Assessment every 5 years with an annual update on the action plan and any significant changes.
  4. The Childcare Offer provides eligible working parents of 3 and 4 year olds with 30 hours of funded early years education (Foundation Phase Nursery - FPN) and childcare per week, for up to 48 weeks a year.  For the Vale of Glamorgan this will consist of 12.5 hours of Foundation Phase Nursery Education and 17.5 hours of childcare per week during term time, and 30 hours of free childcare (9 weeks) non-term time.
  5. Welsh Government's primary policy aims of the offer are to:
    • enable more parents, particularly mothers to return to work;
    • increase the disposable income of those in work and help counteract poverty for those in low-paid jobs; and
    • increase child development and school readiness.
  1. Parental eligibility during the early implementation stages is defined by:
    • employment and income;       
    • beneficiaries must be employed or self-employed and permanently reside in Wales;
    • both parents must be working in a two parent family, or the sole parent in a lone parent family; and    
    • earn a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at the national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW) and be able to prove they are working via their earnings.      
  1. In order to access the offer, parents need to be resident in the wards designated for the roll out of the offer.
  2. Early Implementer Local Authorities are required to define the rationale for phasing in the Free Childcare Offer over time across the authority in consultation with the Welsh Government.
  3. Only childcare providers registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) who agree to the terms and conditions of the offer are able to provide childcare places.
  4. In order to take up the offer, families will need to be living within the designated pilot wards; evidence of this is collated when parents make an application.  However, there is no requirement for the free childcare to be located within the eligible wards or within the same local authority area. The selection of childcare is down to parental choice.
  5. The funding level, paid directly to participating childcare providers, is set nationally at £4.50 per child per hour.
  6.      The Welsh Government rate enables participating childcare providers flexibility to charge parents for additional services such as transportation, food and trips.  Providers cannot charge additional fees to increase their hourly rate.                

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The proposed wards in the Vale of Glamorgan to pilot are Peterston Super Ely, Llandow/Ewenny, St Brides Major, Cowbridge (Western Vale, rural), Cornerswell, Llandough (Eastern Vale), Gibbonsdown and Buttrills (Barry).  The rural wards have been identified through the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment 2016 as areas that have limited access to childcare, with most being part time. Both urban wards have been identified as areas with high levels of unemployment. 
  2. Both pilots will test a number of different assumptions when delivering the offer:
    • The percentage of employed people in professional occupations within the Western Vale is 20% and within Eastern Vale areas it is 24.6% therefore it is assumed that a high percentage would require childcare (Census data 2011). 
    • In areas of unemployment it is assumed that the offer of free childcare will encourage and enable parents to return to work.
    • Both pilots will identify the use and availability of wraparound childcare provision within local schools and other nearby childcare settings.
    • Through the offer of free childcare, take up in relation to those requiring both Welsh medium childcare and education will be assessed. 
  1. Welsh Government's approach includes regional working, suggesting one local authority taking on the administrative role, and the other taking on the engagement responsibility. 
  2. Welsh Government has invited the Vale of Glamorgan to become an Early Implementer Local Authority from September 2019.  Welsh Government has proposed that the Vale of Glamorgan Council operate as the Engagement Authority having responsibility for promoting the offer to parents and childcare providers and training their Family Information Service (FIS) to deal with enquiries.
  3. Welsh Government further proposes that Cardiff Council be the Delivery Authority for the Vale of Glamorgan. This will involve processing all applications from parents, determining eligibility and informing parents of the outcome on behalf of the Vale.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council will provide any information they require to process applications and administer the offer. Cardiff Council will start their offer from June 2018 in preparation for roll out in September 2018. 
  4. Further discussions will be required with Cardiff to progress this arrangement once further guidance is available from Welsh Government.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Welsh Government is currently preparing advice to the Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care, regarding funding arrangements for 'Engagement' authorities.   It is envisaged that existing staff within Children & Young People's Partnership team and the Family Information Service will support the offer utilising the funding being made available by Welsh Government.
  2. Cardiff Council will take on the administration role for the Vale of Glamorgan and will be responsible for processing applications from parents, determining eligibility and informing them of the outcome.  They will also process and make payments to childcare providers for delivering the offer; Cardiff's costs will be confirmed by Welsh Government to undertake this role.  These costs will take into consideration the set payment made by Welsh Government for the childcare, administrative costs etc.  Cardiff County Council will administer funding directly to childcare providers in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. In addition to its contribution towards the Council's Corporate Plan, the Childcare Offer will evidence work towards the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The Act outlines seven national well-being goals for Wales, one of these being ' A More Equal Wales', ensuring that we enable all people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances. The Vale Public Services Board has recently published a Well-being Plan which includes a well-being objective 'give children a good start in life'. The Childcare Offer will also contribute to the delivery of this objective.     

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to secure as far as is reasonably practicable, sufficient childcare for working parents in their area.  In addition the Education Regulations 2005 place a duty for local authorities to provide a free part time, good quality education place the term following a child's third birthday.  This initiative will assist in meeting this duty.
  2. The Council must also consider its legal obligations under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to think more about the long term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach.
  3. The Council is required to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and any subsequent legislation relating to processing data including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 
  4. No formal grant documentation has been sent from Welsh Government at this stage so therefore any joint working with Cardiff Council will require further discussion and decision making.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The funding would support a range of childcare places which will support families and children, having a positive impact on early development factors influencing crime and disorder.  

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The Council has to satisfy its public sector duties and obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
  2. In accordance with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Welsh Language standards, the Council also has to consider the impact upon the Welsh language of any decision that it makes and in accordance with the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, the Council must consider how it can promote Welsh medium education.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This report supports the Council's Wellbeing Objective 3:  Give children the best start in life.   By developing a strategic and innovative approach to improve the way in which children have the best start in life, it is hoped that the 30 hour childcare offer will enable parents to obtain employment or extend their current working hours to reach their full potential.  Thus, promoting the well-being of parents and for children to attend good quality childcare, in order to reduce inequalities and support the prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Initially the offer will be delivered in pilot wards in the Vale from September 2019.
  2. However, a full roll out across the Vale will take place in 2021. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Learning and Culture 

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Debbie Maule, Children's Partnership Co-ordinator

Officers Consulted

Mark Davies, Prevention and Partnerships Manager

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services (views)

David Davies, Head of Achievement for All

Carolyn Michael, Operational Manager, Accountancy 

Mike Walsh, Lawyer, Legal Services

Corporate Management Team

Nicola Hale, Performance and Information Manager

Lisa Lewis, Operational Manager Strategy and Resources

Responsible Officer:

Paula Ham, Director Learning and Skills