Children in care – cost clarification

By on 10/05/2011 in Rebuttals

Below is a letter sent to the Birmingham Mail in response to an inaccurate story (Care Home Kids Cost ‘Scandal’) on 9th May.

To the editor

Re Care Home Kids Cost 'Scandal' (Monday 9 May).

It was disappointing to see figures about such a sensitive issue so badly misrepresented in your paper. Your reporter was given written material making it clear that the £13.7million was a projected figure for the year, not a quarterly 'bill' for April to July 2010, so to simply multiply the figure by four to try to suggest an annual cost is inaccurate, misrepresentative and disingenuous to the readers of the paper.

The cost for external care provision for the last financial year has decreased to £13.8million. The figures quoted in your report were before the closure of homes began - homes which generally had a higher unit cost than the average of the council homes and of external providers.   Further, those homes closed were no longer fit for purpose both in terms of structure and standards of accommodation.

The daily average rate for external placements is £397. The £790 quoted in your story is specific to one particular young disabled person whose needs require dedicated staff 24 hours per day and are so specialist such that local children’s homes and residential schools could not meet his needs.

Young people placed outside Birmingham require access to specialist care or because their safety requires removal from the City.

The number of children in the care of Birmingham City Council has declined over the last two years, from 2,199 in July 2009 to the current population of 1,911, with a subsequent decline in the need for placements in children's homes.

This council is absolutely committed to the safety and protection of all children in the city, particularly those in our care but, whilst we must always be held publicly accountable, this is surely a subject that deserves reasoned debate not inaccurate headlines.

Councillor Les Lawrence
Cabinet member, children, young people and families
Birmingham City Council

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