'Inadequate' council to close two thirds of children's centres

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 16 March 2017

More than two thirds of children's centres are set to close in a local authority area where Ofsted recently rated children's services as "inadequate".

Reading wants to cut its children's centres budget by £400,000. Picture: Reading Borough Council

Reading Borough Council is currently consulting on plans to reduce the number of children's centres it maintains from 13 to just four - a cut of almost 70 per cent.

The move is set to save the authority a third of its current children's centre budget, reducing the current budget of £1.2m by £400,000 to around £800,000.

The plans will end delivery of many open-access services for all families in favour of more targeted provision for the most vulnerable.

Services will also be redesigned to focus on pre-birth to three-year-olds, with reduced activities for children aged from three to five and their families. Instead, these will be delivered from four "hub" areas, split across separate council buildings and in homes.

The council plans to either sell former children's centre buildings or continue to use them to deliver other family services.

Reading Borough Council's lead member for children's services Jan Gavin said the decision to cut services was as a result of "drastic and sustained cuts in government funding".

Ofsted rated Reading's children's services as inadequate in August last year. Since then the Department for Education appointed an independent commissioner to lead a three-month review into whether control of children's social care at the authority should be removed "for a period of time".

The children's centre cuts follow a decision last year to reduce the council's youth services budget by £750,000. The authority needs to save £42m from its overall budget. The consultation is set to end on 29 March.

blog comments powered by Disqus