Agenda item

Edsential Update


Simone White, Director for Children, Families and Education introduced the report which provided an update on the work of Edsential, a community interest company (CiC) co-owned by Wirral Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council which provided high quality, ethical and innovative services to schools and families across the Northwest. The report detailed Edsential’s achievements during 2020-21 including the delivery of the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF), Edsential at home service and free school meal parcels. It also outlined the current challenges being faced specifically the impact of COVID-19 on the organisation’s financial position, as well as the strategic business plan priorities for 2021–2022. Mark Parkinson, Chair of Edsential Board and Ian McGrady, Managing Director were in attendance to answer questions from members.


The criteria for eligibility for holiday activity programmes was queried due to residents just over the threshold for eligibility for Free School Meals having to pay full price, where it was noted that the eligibility was set by Department for Education and that because Edsential overachieved on forecast places, demand was high. A further query was raised in relation to the losses the company had incurred and whether it was able to access any covid money for recovery. In response, the Committee was advised that £1.85m had been received in government funding the majority of which had been used for furlough, with rate relief and grants also being received mainly attached to the residential centre in Anglesey. It was reported that there was a robust recovery plan in place and it was expected that income would recover to pre-Pandemic rates.


A further discussion was had around the decision to close the Oaklands residential centre and move existing bookings to the centre in Anglesey. It was felt that the quality of the provision was superior at the Anglesey site, with significantly more activities all of which were accessible on foot, unlike the Oaklands site which required minibus travel and therefore extra cost. It was reported that rates to attend both sites as well as the travelling time to both were equal. A number of queries were then raised in relation to the status of the company in terms of profit, as well the liability for the loss of income during Covid-19 and the anticipated recovery. The status of the company as a CIC was outlined, as well as the use of any profits where it reported that the £100k of profits were reinvested into 12 Wirral schools through grant funding. It was further reported that to the credit of the staff the company avoided cash flow issues during Covid-19 and the Board was confident that it could comfortably pay back the debt it had incurred whilst running the company efficiently.


It was moved by Councillor Wendy Clements, seconded by Councillor Kate Cannon that the Committee places on record its thanks to Edsential for its work during Covid-19. The motion was unanimously agreed. It was therefore –


Resolved – That


(1)  the report be noted.

(2)  Edsential be thanked for their work during Covid-19.

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