A company running children’s services in Sunderland could receive £4 million in extra funding next year to help mitigate the impact of rising looked-after children numbers and spending on agency social workers.
Sunderland council is considering proposals that would see Together for Children receive £4 million extra in contract funding to carry out children’s services on an ongoing basis from April this year. The council chose to create the company limited by guarantee, which it wholly owns, following a damning Ofsted report published in 2015.
Together for Children launched in April 2017 and Ofsted inspectors said in November it was making “sustained progress in improving services”, but there were still “significant” parts of the service that needed improvement.
A spending pressures update in the council’s budget planning said Together for Children was forecasting a shortfall of £5.7 million “primarily as a result of increased numbers of looked after children over that provided for within the budget, and the continued use of agency social workers”.
“The contract sum assumes delivery of savings in 2018/2019 through reductions in looked-after children numbers and reduction in the number of external placements. The board are seeking mitigating actions to minimise the impact of the pressures both in year and on-going,” the report said.
The council is proposing that an “additional contract funding of £4m is provided on an ongoing basis from 1 April 2018/2019 to enable the company to rebase their budget, taking into account additional demand in looked after children numbers in both 2017/2018 and to provide for additional demand in 2018/2019”.
Sue Carty, acting chief executive at Together for Children, said: “Over the last year we have seen the number of children and families that require our support continue to rise and, as a result, additional investment is required to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our city can be kept safe from harm and given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”