May 25 2013 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Camden Council is offering parents in the borough an extra 10 hours of free nursery care a week for three and four-year-olds in schools and children’s centres.
The move to reintroduce full-time nursery provision for children at council-run facilities will increase the statutory 15 free hours of early education and childcare to 25 hours per week for at least the next two academic years.
Camden halved the number of full-time nursery places for three-year-olds at its schools and children’s centres to 800 in 2010 following government spending cuts.
The decision to reinstate the service follows a period of consultation which found extending nursery provision would help to offset reductions in benefits - such as housing benefit and child care tax credits - by helping parents with childcare costs.
The cost of child care in London is the highest in the country, averaging £126.80 a week.
Parents with three and four-year-olds in schools and children’s centres across the borough will be able to benefit from the extra care from next September.
The council and Camden primary schools are each contributing £1.1million to fund the extra service over the next two years.
Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, said: “This important step towards universal childcare is another example of Camden Council listening to our residents and doing everything we can to soften the impact welfare reforms are having on those who work and those who wish to get into work.
“Research from our equalities taskforce, as well as evidence from our schools and parents, shows that better access to childcare is very much needed by our residents.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Simon welcomed the move but questioned the council’s decision to reduce nursery provision in the first place.
“I think it’s a great shame that people have been put through this trouble just to end up back where we started,” said Cllr Simon.
“It smacks of serious mismanagement and poor handling of the service and it’s a very important service.”
In addition to primary schools across the borough, parents can access the extra nursery provision at Hampden, Regents Park, Kilburn Grange, Langtry, Harmood, Gospel Oak, Agar, Konstam, 1A, and Thomas Coram children’s centres.