Sunderland civil servants set to lose childcare service

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A WEARSIDE nursery which provides childcare for Government workers could be facing the axe.

Waterview Park Nursery, which is a childcare facility for those working for the HM Revenue and Customs at Waterview Park, which houses the child benefit office, is under threat of closure.

The nursery, which can cater for about 60 children at any one time, is one of three workplace nurseries in the region which HMRC is considering withdrawing.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said the nurseries are at three of the biggest civil service sites, Waterview Park, Benton Park and Tyneview Park and the move will affect hundreds of people.

Julie Young, PCS northern regional organiser, said the nurseries offer more than 180 full-time equivalent childcare spaces to HMRC and DWP parents working on the sites who pay fees to enable them to work and provide a public service while knowing their children are being well looked after.

She said although they are subsidised, the fees are still on a par with other childcare facilities.

The nurseries under threat are run by a company called Interserve, which also provides the security, catering and cleaning services on the sites.

Ms Young said: “PCS will be launching a high-profile campaign to save these nurseries both for the members who use them and for the staff who work in them.

“At a time when the government is trying to encourage parents to return to work it is ludicrous that HMRC would consider closing workplace nurseries that are well used.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “The public sector should be leading the way on helping employees juggle work and family life, so it is very concerning that the axe appears to be falling on these nurseries.

“HMRC bosses need to give a commitment that they will genuinely listen to the views of workers.”

Meetings for all involved are due to be held at each nursery tomorrow.