Sheffield Council: Private children’s homes cost £10,000 a week – creating serious budget problems

Private children’s homes which are charging Sheffield Council £10,000 per week, per child are draining its budget.
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Finance chiefs say the council must open more of its own children’s homes to try to cut down on the cost.

Adult and children’s social care costs are crippling the council but one of the biggest expenses is private residential care for looked after children.

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Councillors Julie Grocutt, deputy leader and representative for Stocksbridge and Upper Don ward, and Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield Council, outside Liberty Steel.Councillors Julie Grocutt, deputy leader and representative for Stocksbridge and Upper Don ward, and Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield Council, outside Liberty Steel.
Councillors Julie Grocutt, deputy leader and representative for Stocksbridge and Upper Don ward, and Terry Fox, leader of Sheffield Council, outside Liberty Steel.
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Last week director of children and families Carly Speechley slammed the ‘silly prices’ after revealing the council had paid up to £12,000 per week.

This compares to a residential placement in a council-run home which costs about £3,000 a week.

Increasing number of children need high cost placements

The council currently has nine children’s homes and director of finance Ryan Keyworth said it must create more.

He told a meeting: “We need to build our own capacity when it comes to providing very high needs placements for children.

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“We’re seeing an increasing number of children who need very expensive places. It’s not uncommon now to see places for children costing £10,000 a week.

“You can imagine you don’t need many children with those level of needs at that level of cost and it’s a real budget problem

“There’s an opportunity for the council to provide more of those sorts of places ourselves and to put more of the control of those costs in our own hands.”

Mr Keyworth also said more looked after children needed to remain in Sheffield.

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He said: “Glasgow Council keeps all of its children within the city boundaries. One of the issues we face is when we’re unable to find capacity to look after some of our children within the city, we’re faced with sending them out of the city.

“That’s both not good for the child and really expensive for the council. The fewer children we send out of the city the better.

“We need to try and keep more of our children at home, where it’s safe to do so, or as close to home as possible. It’s an ongoing situation but the more we can do at the earlier stages of intervention, the better.”