Budget fears lead Nottingham to cut number of children in care

Molly Garboden

Nottingham Council is aiming to reduce the number of 16- to 18-year-olds in care in order to ease pressure on its budget.

Councillor David Mellen, portfolio holder for children’s services in Nottingham, told Community Care the move would not, however, be at the expense of any child in need.

“We’re not looking to cut out young people in situations that warrant permanent care,” he said. “We’re looking at the ones that we think we could devote more intensive work to in a group home or temporary setting. We often find that with 16-year-olds in care, when they turn 19 and are out of care they simply return to their original home.

“For these cases, we’re trying to negotiate some way they can remain at home for those years, making the process more effective for everybody.”

There are 110 young people aged 16 to 18 years old in the care of the council. About 64 are in foster care, each placement costing an average of £650 per week. Twenty-eight are in residential care at a price of £4,000 per week, with a further 18 living independently at a cost of £500 per person per week.

The annual cost for the council of caring for this age group is £8.5m. In the current financial year, the council is expected to overspend its budget in children’s services by over £2.67m.

Nottingham has a targeted support team that determines whether children need to be in care or not. According to Mellen, no threshold for care has been changed under the new plan and the needs of every young person will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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