Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Childcare and playwork services in Wales have faced numerous challenges as a result of Covid-19. I am immensely grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to provide quality childcare and play opportunities for our children and young people and to ensure that families have access to these vital services.
I fully recognise that for some providers, many of the challenges caused by Covid-19 have not gone away and this is why I am pleased to announce that I am making available an additional £5.1 million this financial year to further support the childcare and playwork sector.
£3.5 million of this funding will be distributed to local authorities via the Children and Communities Grant and will be available to assist with the short term impact of the health emergency on services. This should go some way towards ensuring that providers can keep on operating as they seek to recover from the effects of Covid-19 or adapt to meet the needs of families in the future. It will be up to each local authority to decide how this money is allocated, according to local priorities.
Alongside this I am also providing additional funding to our local authorities to help them with their statutory responsibilities in respect of childcare and playwork and to the six umbrella bodies representing the childcare and playwork sector.
Local authorities across Wales are required to undertake Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSAs) every 5 years, in consultation with key stakeholders, providing a comprehensive overview of the supply of, and demand for, childcare at the local level. They are also required to undertake Play Sufficiency Assessments (PSAs) every three years, providing a comprehensive view of the play opportunities in their area. Both the CSAs and PSAs are due in 2022, and I am pleased to be able to provide £440,000 as part of this overall package towards the costs of undertaking these very important assessments.
Now, more than ever, we need to find every possible way of building a true picture of what things look like on the ground in terms of supply of childcare and play opportunities so that our policies and funding priorities are properly targeted to ensure we support the right type of childcare, in the right place, at the right time.
I am providing £1.25m to the six umbrella bodies for the childcare and playwork sectors to enable them to continue to support service providers across Wales as they adapt to and recover from the impacts of the past 18 months. This will enable them to support individual settings, the wider workforce and to drive forward the quality of our provision. £1m is being allocated to Cwlwm, the consortium of the five umbrella bodies for childcare, and £250k to Play Wales. This includes an allocation to Play Wales in respect of their work on the Ministerial Review of Play.
This announcement comes in addition to the recent joint announcement with the Minister for Finance and Local Government, to extend the 100% small business rate relief scheme for registered child care providers for an additional three years, to 31 March 2025.
Both statements underline our commitment to looking after Wales’ young people and their families through supporting childcare and playwork opportunities and all of those who continue to work tirelessly to provide vital services to families.