One year rent to be waived for under-threat children's centres

Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to waive the rents of children's centres run by community groups for up to a year if they face closure.

The proposals, part of a programme set to be implemented in 2017 to transform the way children’s services are delivered in Oxfordshire, could potentially affect eight centres which are based in buildings where the council sets the rent saving them up to £38,493 each a year.

Giving rent relief for the eight buildings will lose the council about £155,000 a year but it would have to repay more than £1.5 million to the government in 2017/18 if they are no longer used for children's services.

The county's 44 centres will be replaced with a network of 18 council-run centres when it withdraws funding for some non-statutory services to help save £6 million.

Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, said: “We’ve listened very carefully to the concerns raised and have agreed to offer a rent-free period of up to 12-months, with a review after six months, where necessary to help community-led services get off the ground at council-owned children’s centres.

“We’ve already approved start-up funding for six proposals, a further eight are supported in principle, and others are coming to fruition. Everyone wants this to be a success and the response of local communities continues to suggest it will be.”