06 Mar 2019, Catherine Gaunt
Birmingham City Council currently operates 14 council nurseries but can no longer afford to run them.
Last year, the council nurseries were operating at a total deficit of £712,000 and none of them were breaking even financially.
Following consultation, the council cabinet agreed in December to withdraw from operating all the remaining council nurseries.
The council is starting a ‘due diligence’ process for each nursery by inviting responses from the PVI sector, social enterprise and other public bodies to deliver the childcare services.
The council-run nurseries represent 4 per cent of the city’s day nursery provision, with 1,379 childcare settings in total operating across Birmingham.
The council said that there are no areas where council-run nurseries are needed to supplement a lack of voluntary, community, private or school nurseries and each council-run nursery was looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Lindsey Trivett, head of early years, childcare and children’s centres, said, ‘Cabinet has agreed that the city council withdraws from operating its 14 remaining day nurseries and transfers them to other public bodies and the voluntary, independent and private sector, including social enterprises.
‘There are currently lots of vacancies in nursery settings in all of the areas where our 14 council-run nurseries operate, and we know through discussions with other providers there is a great deal of interest in taking over these nurseries so we would encourage any interested parties to take part in this process.’
The tender process will be used to approve the most appropriate applicant for the nurseries.
Successful applicants will take on the running of the day nurseries, by completing a TUPE transfer of existing staff, where required, and entering into lease agreements with the council for nursery buildings or the parts of buildings currently occupied by the nurseries.
The council will not be providing any funding regarding the running of the day nurseries after completion of transfers and will not contract manage or seek any performance measures with successful applicants.
The GMB union had tried to save the nurseries by putting forward a proposal to develop a social enterprise model to run them, but subsequently withdrew this after finding that the model and associated costs were not viable.
The union said that Government cuts to the council were ‘so brutal’ that there was no way that the council could continue to operate the nurseries.
The National Day Nurseries Association said last year that since 2016 the funding rate set by Government for all three- and four-year-olds in Birmingham has dropped by 6 per cent.
The deadline for applicants is 12 noon on 3 April 2019. Interested providers should register at https://in-tendhost.co.uk/birminghamcc/ Providers are invited to visit the nurseries and must complete a site visit request form by 12 noon on 13 March. Visits will take place between now and 22 March. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 464 8000 if you are unable to register with in-tend.