Conservatives propose free swimming for disadvantaged children

Disadvantaged children in Bath and North East Somerset are set to benefit from access to free swimming at Council pools under proposals put forward by the Conservative Cabinet on B&NES Council as part of this year’s Budget.

The proposals will mean earmarking funds to provide free swimming for disadvantaged children, most likely based on free school meals entitlements, and come despite a lack of Government funding.

Children in B&NES have been missing out on free swimming after the Government failed to stump up enough money for the scheme to go ahead in the area. The Government also refused a request from the Council to use the limited funds on offer to target the free swimming programme at disadvantaged children.

However, if the Conservative budget proposals are given the go-ahead at a Full Council meeting on the 16th of February, the Council will step in to provide funding for the disadvantaged children’s free swimming scheme to go ahead.

The Council’s Cabinet has pointed to this commitment as an example of how the Council must increasingly target its resources to empower those in greatest need during tough financial times.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Chris Watt (Cons, Midsomer Norton Redfield), said:

“Providing free swimming for disadvantaged children meets our priority of ensuring that all children in B&NES have best possible chances in life. As local government finances become increasingly tight in the coming years, it’s vital that we target our limited resources at those in greatest need and empowering local communities.”

Cllr Terry Gazzard (Cons, Abbey), Cabinet Member responsibility for Leisure, added:

“It’s disappointing that the Government has not provided the funding promised for the initiative and turned down our request for more flexibility in the limited amount on offer. But the important thing is that many local children will soon be able to take up a worthwhile activity which they would otherwise be unable to afford.”

Details of how entitled children can take up the scheme will be confirmed following the Council’s Budget Meeting, which takes place on the 16th of February.