To present the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment to the Forum.
The Forum considered a report which presented the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA).
Cherry Hall advised that the CSA shows there was sufficient childcare provision in the Borough, and prospective providers were being advised of that. Further analysis was required on the impact of new housing and business growth in the Town Centre (TC) on supply and demand. This was more difficult to assess for pre-school age children.
Following presentation to Schools Forum the CSA would be submitted to the executive member for approval in January 2020 and subsequently published on the Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) website where it would be available to the public.
The Forum questioned how the expected decrease in the birth rate would be managed. Cherry Hall admitted that it was a challenge and difficult to predict. The CSA was looking at 2019-2023 but a lot of the children wouldn’t have been born yet. Lots of parents were using informal childcare so the Council was looking at promoting the free entitlement in the Town & Country magazine. The next step would be to look at how many young children were coming in and going out of the Borough for childcare. Cherry Hall explained that the team were talking a lot to providers and advising them about changing their business models to be more attractive to parents. The aim was to try to help existing providers to stay sustainable and discourage new provision.
The Forum queried whether the Council had any other mechanism to prevent new provision apart from just discouragement. Cherry Hall advised that the Council could only discourage; Ofsted was the only body which had the power to register or not register.
The Forum asked whether existing providers knew they would have to manage a reduction in numbers? Cherry Hall explained that once providers become aware, they would often approach the Council for advice. Some providers have managed quite well but others were not so business-minded so lots of work had been done around that. For example, when the Government introduced extended 30 hours free entitlement for 3- and 4-year olds of working parents, the council supported providers who required help with business modelling. Michelle Tuddenham added that small businesses had complications in their staffing models and weren’t able to lay off workers in the quitet autumn period and ask them to come back in January; instead, they kept workers on and hoped they would generate sufficient funding during the busy times to fund them during the quieter times.
The Forum questioned what the impact would be of the TC development. Cherry Hall explained that there was one nursery within the TC area which would be displaced with the changes happening in Coopers Hill. If that provision were to be lost there would be a deficit, so the team was looking at where to relocate that provision.
RESOLVED to NOTE the contents of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment, which indicated that there was sufficient childcare in Bracknell Forest to meet demand and the ongoing work to understand the impact of new housing and town centre
developments on supply and demand.