November 19, 2021 12.21 pm

Councillors back plans for £1.5million children’s care homes in Lincolnshire

Out of county care costs taxpayers £11.5m

Lincolnshire County Councillors have given the go ahead to a £1.5million spend to build two new children’s care homes in a bid to tackle “spiralling” costs of ‘out of county’ care.

The authority’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee today approved a recommendation to convert Strut House in Lincoln into a new children’s home, called Robin House, and to find another children’s home in either East Lindsey or South Kesteven.

Strut House currently provides a short break residential unit for children and young people who have a disability, but at the same meeting councillors agreed to move the service to refurbished residential accommodation at St Francis Special School.

Spending on out of county care has increased by 155% since 2016/17, rising from £4.534million to £11.548million in 2020/21.

As of August 23, 2021, there were 99 children and young people in external placements, compared to 46 in 2018/19.

The rate of children in care has also increased rapidly and officers say the current provision is “insufficient” to meet demand.

Janice Spencer, assistant director of children’s services said: “We are an outstanding children’s service and we are delivering outcomes for our children and young people but we are never complacent and there’s always room for improvement.

“This has quite an impact on children because what it means is they are placed away from their home, away from their families and their communities and there’s a significant cost to the council.

“This proposal will enable the council to deliver and meet the requirements to provide better quality care for our children and young people meaning they are closer to home rather than providing care at a distance.”

A bid has also been made to the Department for Education for match funding on the new homes.

The £1.5million spend will come from a 10-year capital programme agreed in 2019.

Councillor Mark Whittington said: “We all know it’s a lot better if children are in this county and closer to their families and simple economics knows that if demand [for out of county places] is increasing so will the price.”

He sought to ensure this was just the first stage in expanding the county’s children’s services which officers were keen to answer positively.

Councillors also sought reassurance over the availability of education in the planned locations.

Councillor Colin Matthews hoped the location would provide a positive start to addressing issues between children in homes and school provision.

Councillors supported the spend unanimously.

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.