North West Wales

School breakfast early start charges for Gwynedd

Parents who drop their children off at school early for a free breakfast in Gwynedd will face a charge from November.

Council leaders have agreed to impose an 80p fee for "childcare" for pupils arriving between 08:00 and 08:25.

The cabinet insisted that the breakfast itself, which is served after 08:25, would remain free.

The breakfasts were introduced in Wales in 2004, and enshrined in legislation in 2013.

Local authorities are given an allocation of funding as part of their block grant towards the cost of providing the service.

But last year Gwynedd council agreed to cut £100,000 from its breakfast budget, with £29,000 cut from the staff childcare allocation.

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GWYNEDD FREE BREAKFASTS:

  • Number of primary schools providing breakfast: 75
  • Number of pupils taking breakfast: 2,500
  • School breakfast costs: £557,000 (2016)

A report to the council cabinet said it had to address staffing costs - and had two choices: Continue with free breakfasts after 08:25 and scrap the childcare before then - or charge a fee for the childcare element.

In a public consultation involving more than 1,300 responses, 73% said they preferred the fee option.

"We are not taking the free breakfast away or making people pay for it - I want to make that clear," said the cabinet member Gareth Thomas at a meeting on Tuesday.

He said it was about finding the cash to cover the staff costs for childcare before the breakfast period.

"It's an option for parents - the free breakfast is still there," he added.

The council said it also hoped to introduce a reduced fee for parents with three or more children at a primary school.

The charges will be implemented from 6 November.

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