Decision details

Early Years and Children's Centres

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Agree a future delivery approach for the early years and children’s centre services


Councillor Tony Smith introduced a report by the Director of Children’s Services, which reminded the Cabinet of the Wirral Early Years and Children Centre Review presented to its meeting on 11 September 2014 made recommendations about the development of a new model of service delivery, supported by an outcomes framework to ensure that Wirral’s youngest children have the best start in life, evidenced through their readiness for school (Minute No. 54 refers.). 


The Review had been prompted by the need to save £1.5 million from the Council’s Early Years Review and Children’s Centre budget, reducing the budget to £3.080 million.  The Review had also recognised that the service had not been reviewed since 2002, although the resources available to deliver this service in recent years had reduced significantly.  The service had also required a radical shift in thinking to meet current policy and legislative requirements. 


The Director reported that since the Review had been published there had been even greater emphasis placed on improving children’s readiness for school through, the Council Plan: A 2020 Vision, Wirral’s recent designation as a Vanguard site to deliver joined up health and care services and the recently published Ofsted Early Years report, which particularly emphasised narrowing the gap in outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 


This Cabinet report was operational in nature.  It requested that the Cabinet reviewed the feedback from the consultation about the proposed changes and authorised officers to take a series of steps to ensure the service was in a stable and financially viable position.  It would provide a platform for future developments to meet ambitious outcomes for our youngest children and their families, as summarised in point 6.0 of the report.


The decision made by the Cabinet on 11 September 2014 that officers should commence consultation on a proposed new model for delivering early years services had been called-in under the Council’s scrutiny arrangements which had resulted in the consultation being published for public feedback on 16 February 2015.  The consultation had closed on 27 March 2015, and the report provided the Cabinet with the feedback received.


The report made a number of recommendations to the Cabinet about the delivery of early years and children’s centre services.  This included the approach to delivering outcome-focused provision in an integrated way with partners in local communities through three hubs, six satellite buildings and services commissioned through the two nursery schools.


The report recommended to the Cabinet that a weighted funded model be adopted which took account of levels of deprivation and need across pre-determined reach footprints within constituency areas, that this supported a flexible and well trained workforce and that services were commissioned and delivered across a range of different disciplines, including the voluntary community and faith sector. 


The Cabinet noted that the recommendations, informed by the consultation findings, could deliver the agreed savings of £1.5 million.  However, there would be slippage in 2015/6 which at this stage was likely to result in a shortfall of £1.2 million.  This portion would be kept under close review.


The Cabinet was requested to consider the consultation feedback which informed the revised delivery model and to authorise officers to commence implementation of the model. 


Appended to the Director’s report was:


·  Appendix 1 –  Consultation Feedback.

·  Appendix 2 -  Map of Revised Hubs and Satellites Children’s Centres.

·  Appendix 3 -  Explanation of the terms used to support the review/report.

·  Appendix 4 -  Indicative Model of Funding Allocations.


Councillor Tony Smith informed that in addition to the consultation feedback, two petitions had been received, one from Wallasey with 375 signatures and one from West Wirral with 657 signatures.  These petitions had opposed the proposed changes to the service, their receipt had been acknowledged and the feedback they provided had been considered as part of the consultation process.


Councillor Tony Smith also informed that on 13 July 2015 the Chief Inspector of Schools, Michael Wilshaw had produced a report on Early Years and the general gist of it was that the outcomes for disadvantaged children were now rising in line with those of their peers.  From 2016 Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools would look to rank local authorities by how well they met the needs of disadvantaged children.  The aim was for all children to have reached the expected level.


Councillor Phil Davies reported that the Government’s cut in Early Years funding from £10m to £3m was pretty disastrous to a vital service.  It would be really difficult to deal with a cut such as this.  The Council would need to work creatively and the model outlined in the report was a good way forward and the use of the Outreach Team ensured more flexibility in providing the service. 


Councillor Phil Davies informed that as a result of Government’s cuts, it was right for the Council to focus on children who were experiencing high levels of deprivation in line with its Plan – ‘A 2020 Vision’.  This was an imaginative way forward to provide a good outcome to a difficult process.


Councillor Adrian Jones made reference to the unfair cuts he considered that the Government had imposed on northern local authorities and raised concerns that Conservative Councillors did not appear to be protesting about them.


Councillor Bernie Mooney considered that the knock on effect of the Government’s actions was that more and more people were living in economic and social deprivation.  They needed the services that the Council would no longer be able to provide due to Government funding cuts and all departments were experiencing the stresses and strains of this.  The public needed to be made aware of how severe and tight things were becoming as a result of the Government’s actions.




(1)  the consultation process detailed within the report be noted, and Wirral residents, staff and other stakeholders be thanked for their input;


(2)  the detailed consultation findings provided within the report and that Appendix 1 be noted; and


(3)  the revised delivery model outlined in the report be approved and its implementation, including taking the required steps to make the necessary workforce changes and redefining the use of assets be approved. 


Councillor Phil Davies left the meeting.


Councillor Ann McLachlan in the Chair.

Report author: Julia Hassall

Publication date: 29/07/2015

Date of decision: 27/07/2015

Decided at meeting: 27/07/2015 - Cabinet

Effective from: 06/08/2015

Accompanying Documents: