East End mother blasts council over plans to end their funding of after-school care

An East End mother has hit back at Tower Hamlets council over its plans to cancel funding of children’s after-school care and pass all costs over to parents.

As part of the council’s package of �55m cuts, its junior youth service is set for the scrap heap, so parents may have to pay double for childcare.

Midwife Lisa Higginson, of Bow, pays �5 a day per child so her two younger children, Rakhim, 9, and Shakeel, 7, can attend an after-school club at Olga Primary School in Lanfranc Road.

She said: “I’m lucky as a midwife, my salary’s not too bad, but if the care is no longer provided at Olga School, I will be angry.

“If it’s not there, it’s going to be disruptive for our children.”

At a town hall meeting last Tuesday, concerned parents got the first details of the new childcare system, to start following the Easter holidays.

Councillor Joshua Peck attended the meeting and he says of the 18 schools running after-school clubs, only eight will remain with room for 240 children, down from 569 last year.

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The charge is likely to go up to between �8 and �10 per hour.

Working families on low incomes will be able to recoup some of that cost with working tax family credits but there is no provision for registered childcare for children of non-working parents, who made up 38 per cent of users last year.

Ms Higginson said: “This could result in more children being left alone at home – you’ll get lots of latch-key children again.”

Cllr Peck said: “The assumption is that most non-working parents won’t be able to pay so that is why they are planning it around 240 children.”

“I’m concerned that you are going to get a two-tier system.”

If eight schools don’t agree to the new system, council officers told the assembly of parents that childrens’ centres could take responsibility, but their budget is to drop by �2.9m.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are proposing service alterations to ensure that parents continue to receive the high quality of service while keeping costs down.”