To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and which local authorities have notified her Department about plans to dispose of grant-funded assets through the (a) sale, (b) transfer and (c) change of use of children's centres under the requirements of the Sure Start Early Years and Childcare Grant.
29 February 2016
Where local authorities dispose of or change the use of buildings or other assets funded wholly or partly through Sure Start capital grants, they must repay the money through the claw-back process.
The Department for Education has a thorough set of monitoring arrangements in place regarding claw-back rules. Local authorities are required to notify the department of each and every proposed change of services and provide details about the level of early years services that are to continue. The department then considers if the local authority has continued to offer a sufficient level of early years services for children and their families from the building in question to meet the original aims of the grant.
If the department is satisfied that the funding for the asset will continue to be used for purposes consistent with the grant, the department may defer claw-back. Deferring claw-back means that we accept the change of usage at that time, however, the department retains its interest in the asset and if in the future the asset has its usage changed, is transferred or otherwise disposed of, and does not continue to meet the purposes of the grant the local authority must inform the department and we will claw-back the funding. The department’s interest in an asset funded by Sure Start capital grants is 25 years from designation of the building. If the grant was used to purchase capital items or re-furbish an existing asset, the length of time and value of any claw-back depends on the depreciation value of the items, according to local authority depreciation rules.