West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2015-11-03
End date: 2015-12-14
Results: 2016-03-03

[ARCHIVED] Budget Proposal 2016/17 - Phase One: Children's Centres

Part of the range of West Berkshire Council's budget proposals for 2016/17, with supporting information and Equality Impact Assessments

If you haven't already seen our video explaining why these changes are being proposed, please visit our Budget Proposals 2016/17 webpage.


Children's Centre services provide 'early childhood services' to improve outcomes for young children and their families. These services include early education and childcare, health services, and training, information and advice for parents, some are provided by the council and some by partner organisations.

We recognise the important role Children's Centres play in delivering early childhood services and support for children and their families in West Berkshire. We know many families have positive experiences of Children's Centres and those that use them, value them.

West Berkshire has 10,000 plus children under the age of 5 and around 1,750 to 1,900 births each year. This has increased in the last five years with considerable new housing particularly in Newbury and Thatcham with more housing planned over the next three to five years, so we expect the numbers of young children to grow.


The four key strands of the proposal are:

  • Re-design how we deliver our services so that we can make the biggest difference to families.
    • We will create 3 geographical areas for the planning and delivery of services. These will be called Family and Wellbeing Delivery Areas. The Children's Centres in each Delivery Area will become Family and Wellbeing Hubs.
    • We will reduce management, staffing and administration costs by removing duplication and integrating service delivery.
    • We will make more use of local community venues and work alongside partner organisations and community groups.
  • Target support for parents and children who need additional help, including early childhood services
  • Continue to offer popular early childhood services for families. We may start to charge a fee.
  • Create a single governance group to oversee Early Childhood Services.

As part of this proposal it is proposed to close the following centres:

  • Calcot
  • South Thatcham (Lower Way)
  • South Newbury
  • East Downlands

This will save £300,000.

For full details of all of these proposals, please read the full pdf icon Consultation Document [544kb] before responding.

What do we think the impact will be?

We will focus services which improve health, education and social care for our children and families in greatest need and ensure that these families receive additional help so that their children can thrive and develop well.

We will integrate targeted family support with universal services so that families get the help that they need from someone that they trust. We will also work closely with voluntary, community and faith support. Services may be delivered by our partner organisations.

We will not be able to provide all of the universal services that we currently do and some may cease. We will maintain popular sessions but we will not be able to provide these sessions free of charge. This may mean that some families cannot afford the sessions they currently use.

We will stop using four Children's Centre buildings, but will provide a greater level of outreach, meaning that our services will still be available, using community locations. This means that services will be available in local communities and some families will have less distance to travel to access services. However, for others the services that they want may be at a different location, which may be less convenient for them.

What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?

No alternatives were considered as delivering that required level of savings elsewhere would severely impact on more critical and potentially statutory front line services. Therefore, we have carefully looked at where vulnerable families live and produced outline proposals which build on bringing services into local communities.

This consultation is now closed.

What you told us

We received 256 responses to this consultation.

We have condensed all your comments into the 'Summary of Responses' and everything you said, word for word, is contained in 'Verbatim Responses'.

These can be found in 'Documents' below.

What we did

A recommendation on how to proceed with this proposal was made to the Executive Members 11 February 2016.

This can also be found below in 'Overview and Recommendation'.

Following this, at the Full Council Meeting on 1 March 2016, all Members discussed this proposal as part of setting the Revenue Budget for 2016/17.

At the vote, the budget was agreed with the suggested amendments.

This proposal has been superseded by a Phase 2 proposal which will be determined by Full Council on 24 March 2016

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