Closure of nurseries

  • Each of these nursery places costs £11,000 yet the council’s early years budget is £1,700 for every child under five in the borough
  • Commitment to an appropriate childcare place for every child including specialist care for deaf children
  • Council calls an early years summit with parents and providers to improve affordable and accessible childcare

Tower Hamlets Council’s three day nurseries will close after the Cabinet took the difficult decision due to financial pressures.

The difficult decision follows a public consultation in which 53% of people supported the closure. The council is committed to supporting all parents of the 22,000 children under the age of five and their families in Tower Hamlets.

The early years budget has around £1,700 for every child under five in the borough. These three day care nurseries receive a public subsidy of around £11,000 per child. This was considered financially unsustainable by the Cabinet and the funding gap would need to be met by cutting other early years services.

There are also currently 84 other organisations providing childcare across the borough giving parents other options to choose from.

To date, the local authority day nurseries have had top up funding from the schools’ budget, which the Tower Hamlets Schools Forum has decided will end this month (September 2018). The forum decided that there are more effective uses for the top up money given the insufficient numbers of children attending the day nurseries.

In addition, like other local authorities, Tower Hamlets has to make unprecedented savings following continued government cuts to council budgets. Over the next two years, the council has to save £58m.

The Cabinet decided on Wednesday that, with Tower Hamlets Schools Forum wanting to spend the school’s budget elsewhere, the three nurseries were no longer viable.

However, the council will put on an Early Years Summit to bring together parents and childcare providers to see how we can work together to improve the offer of affordable and accessible childcare in Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: 

“A combination of deep government cuts to council funding alongside a growing population, means we have to take very difficult choices.

“We have listened to our residents and gone back to see if we can find other ways to keep them open, however the reality is that we have concluded that this is not possible at this point in time..

If we keep them open for a small amount of children, then a much larger number of children and families miss out on council funding for other support services.

“There are quite a number of childcare providers in our borough and we will help any of the children that had places at these nurseries to find suitable alternatives elsewhere in Tower Hamlets.

“We will also make sure that anyone needing specialist care will continue to receive it.”

Cllr Danny Hassell Cabinet Member for Children Schools and Young people said:

These key decisions have been rightly scrutinised and consulted on as they are so important. A majority of the respondents to the council consultation agreed with the proposals but I accept these decisions are not easy ones. I am committed to every child having excellent childcare or early education provision that suits their needs and these proposals can deliver that.”

A full consultation took place on the proposals between 19 July to 10 September 2018, which had 592 responses. Of those who expressed a view, 292 (53%), agreed with the proposals, 256 (47%) opposed them and 44 stated that they didn’t know if they agreed or disagreed.

These three day care nurseries are separate from both children’s centres and our six ‘outstanding’ nursery schools.  The proposals to close the day care nurseries will not affect our children’s centres or our nursery schools.

There are 7,000 under-five places in Tower Hamlets, roughly two-thirds of which are in public nursery classes in primary schools or nursery schools across the borough. These places are not affected by this decision.

Posted on Thursday 27th September 2018