HEADLINE-grabbing Government pledges which it fails to properly fund are being propped up by a Conservative-led council, it has been claimed.

Leaders of Richmondshire District Council have been told their decision to offer private childcare operators business rates discounts was “an absolute farce”.

The criticism from independent councillor Stuart Parsons came as the authority’s corporate board examined offering firms providing childcare for ten or more children under the age of eight a 50 per cent business rates discount. 

The authority’s corporate board heard the Government had encouraged local authorities to consider using their business rates local discounts powers to support access to local high quality provision.

Members were told changes to the provision of Government supported free childcare places had introduced challenges to providers to continue delivering services whilst offering the government pledge of 30 hours’ free childcare. The discounts would cost taxpayers £13,900 annually.

Cllr Parsons said: “All the childcare providers are saying central government does not fund them adequately for the provision they are expected to make. They are all stating the government is forcing them out of business. So the government comes up with a wheeze and makes us, yet again, pay for their tightness. These are not charities they are private businesses. By doing this we enter into the realm of just about every other business going.”

The council’s leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock said granting the relief would help keep childcare facilities open. She said: “This is looking after the women who mostly have and look after the children. People need to get back to work. Sometimes it’s not always for financial gain, but to keep their career on track, and they need somewhere for their babies.

“This is not necessarily about helping the private nurseries, but rather that it will keep them in business and their prices low enough so people can afford to send their children to it.”