£2million to care for just 10 youngsters

First published in News

THURROCK Council has been forced to defend the spiralling cost of childcare after it was revealed nearly £2million is being spent on just ten cared-for-children every year.

By 2014, the department of Children’s Social Care is projected to be £3million over-budget, with one cared-for child currently costing tax payers nearly £280,000.

There are 257 cared-for-children in Thurrock, with ten costing at least £175,000 a year to look after.

The council often buys placements in children’s homes, most at a cost of around £3,500 per week, with more than 50 per cent of Thurrock’s fostered children are living outside the borough.

A spokesman for the authority has pointed to an increase of care proceedings cases following the economic downturn and Baby P case and “an increased national profile for long-term neglect cases” as the reason why pressures on children’s social care have increased.

But Cllr James Halden, the Conservative spokesman for Children’s Social Care said the council’s current spending is not sustainable and called for a public debate.

Cllr Halden, pictured, said: “Are we just using the first companies we come across and does that represent value for money?

“It’s not enough to say what we’re spending, we have to say how it’s being spent. This means constituents will never know what we’re doing with their money or how we are looking after children.

“If a child has complex needs then I would fight tooth and nail for the right care to be in place. But if we don’t have this discussion the situation will become untenable.”

When asked about this at full council last week, Oliver Gerrish, the council member responsible for Children’s Social Care said: “In our Ofsted inspection last year, we were judged “good” on our work with children in care and the report of that inspection should give members confidence in our practise.

“I am satisfied the council is striving to make the best possible placements for children in our care.”

A council spokesman said: “Thurrock Council has a duty to look after children.

“The costs are national and there is nothing unusual about those in Thurrock. These are in units with high levels of staff and often where additional services, such as education and therapeutic support, are needed, bearing in mind some children are the victims of the most horrific forms of abuse.

“Some of the higher costs relate to children with disabilities who have very specific needs.

“The council is vigilant in making the best care plan for each child.”

Comments (3)

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9:25am Sat 2 Feb 13

A Dermot says...

Halden playing politics with some of the most vulnerable children in Thurrock.

Halden is obviously completely ignorant of the often complex and very expensive care and support that some children require. With advances in medicine some children who would have died a decade ago are now living to their teens and beyond. These children may be constantly hooked up to medical equipment to help them breathe for example or needing several support staff 24 hours a day. There could be for example other cases where for the safety of others children are held in secure units due to criminal behaviour (such as sex offending) or severe violent psychiatric problems.

The Council isn't going to give you a case by case breakdown of the children, their care needs and the costs of the care.

You just want to play political ping pong bemoaning the cost of the care and support in a public arena instead of asking the portfolio holder or cabinet member behind closed doors.

If you sat on the relevant overview and scrutiny committee you could have raised your concerns with the relevant council officers..

A reprehensible individual.
Halden playing politics with some of the most vulnerable children in Thurrock. Halden is obviously completely ignorant of the often complex and very expensive care and support that some children require. With advances in medicine some children who would have died a decade ago are now living to their teens and beyond. These children may be constantly hooked up to medical equipment to help them breathe for example or needing several support staff 24 hours a day. There could be for example other cases where for the safety of others children are held in secure units due to criminal behaviour (such as sex offending) or severe violent psychiatric problems. The Council isn't going to give you a case by case breakdown of the children, their care needs and the costs of the care. You just want to play political ping pong bemoaning the cost of the care and support in a public arena instead of asking the portfolio holder or cabinet member behind closed doors. If you sat on the relevant overview and scrutiny committee you could have raised your concerns with the relevant council officers.. A reprehensible individual. A Dermot
  • Score: 0

11:19am Sat 2 Feb 13

Dave_ says...

This as maybe, but c.£500 a day, someone somewhere is milking the taxpayer. OK if it is a serious medical case, then perhaps, but still the bottom line has to be considered.
But this is something that doesn't happen in the public sector, it's not their money so they don't have to worry about accounting for it.
This as maybe, but c.£500 a day, someone somewhere is milking the taxpayer. OK if it is a serious medical case, then perhaps, but still the bottom line has to be considered. But this is something that doesn't happen in the public sector, it's not their money so they don't have to worry about accounting for it. Dave_
  • Score: 0

3:17am Mon 4 Feb 13

ThurrockResident says...

No wonder the unemployed are forced to pay Council Tax from April. This is a bloody disgrace!
No wonder the unemployed are forced to pay Council Tax from April. This is a bloody disgrace! ThurrockResident
  • Score: 0

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