Bill hike for looked after children in Herefordshire

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Thursday, November 28th, 2019 6:04pm

By Camelo Garcia - Local Democracy Reporter

Herefordshire Council is expected to overspend £2.2m on children services.

Officers say growing pressures such as the increase in looked after children and the rise in young people in supported accommodation are contributing to the increase in cost.

The council has also seen the number of 19-year-olds increase from one to nine this year.

The level of support, lack of local placements and increase in costs for placements have all added to the total bill.

The total number of looked after children in Herefordshire stood at 350, 95 children per 10,000, at the end of October 2019.

While neighbouring authorities look after around 78 children per 10,000, giving a number looked after children of 282.

Children and families cabinet member Felicity Norman told the cabinet meeting held at Leominster Library last night why the cost was rising.

“The money sent on looking after our children is absolutely huge,” she said.

“It is the biggest part and t is very important indeed.

“We are looking at all sorts of ways of minimising that cost here we can.

“Clearly the responsibility is there but we are looking at possibilities of children being looked after in other ways.

“So in some cases they might be able to go back to their wider families.

“That means a great deal of checking and assessment, it’s not a simple project.

“The courts have to agree but that is one thing we are looking at to possibly reduce the numbers of looked after children.”

In Herefordshire one in every five children is living in poverty.

There has also been an increase in vulnerable children and children with special educational needs.

The council is facing extra residential placement costs of £689,000, supported external accommodation bills of £623,000.

Complex needs pooled budget is also expected to go £608,000 over target and the cost of agency and in-house-fostering has gone up by £153,000 and £129,000 respectively.

This total projected overspend is £2,202m.

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