“Nearly 50 play workers and support staff face uncertainty after being told their jobs may be axed as part of plans to cut all council funded childcare for primary pupils in Westminster.
Forty six part-time play workers and administrative staff at after-school play services face redundancy from April this year as Westminster Council seeks to save £453,000 through cuts to children’s services by 2018.
Staff members who provide afterschool and holiday play sessions for hundreds of children aged 4-12 at schools and community centres across the borough attended a meeting on the three-month consultation into the job losses at City Hall on Monday evening.
Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North said: “It is heartbreaking that these people-many of whom are local people working part-time just to support themselves now face losing their jobs or going onto benefits.
“At the same time, even if schools can keep provision going, working parents face huge rises in their child care costs or will have to rely on family for childcare. This is a hit on working parents who want to give their children quality, active and reliable childcare sessions.”
Under the proposals, Westminster council will pull between 71 and 100 per cent of the subsidy available to help working parents pay for childcare at a saving of £152,000 in 2015 rising to £170,000 in 2016-2017.
Responsibility for continued afterschool play service will be handed to schools who can find the funds and staff to maintain it or “external providers”.
Targeted subsidy will still be available for children classified as “in need” and families on very low incomes.
Mum Helena Krawitz, who led a campaign against proposed closed to “stay and play” drop-in nursery at Essendine school in May said: “Once again it is unfortunate that Westminster seems to be targeting children’s services and is taking a short-termist view on which cuts have to be made.”
The consultation, which opened in November and concludes on January 4, comes after Westminster council agreed a £3.3 million programme of cuts to nursery, play and youth services in February.
A spokeswoman for Westminster Council said: “Following consultation with parents and carers earlier this year, it was decided that we would continue to provide play services until April 2016, at which point schools and/or external providers would take on responsibility for delivering a service.
“We are currently in discussions with primary schools and voluntary sector organisations to help them establish their new services and maintain continuity for families wherever possible.
“We know this is an unsettling time for families and will be keeping them informed throughout the process.”