Agenda item

Increased Residential and Supported Accommodation for Children in Care and Care Leavers


The Executive Member for Children’s Services submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.


The report presented the revised plans to achieve savings of £0.450m in 2025/26 and £0.615m in 2026/27, totalling £1.065m by the end of the current MTFP period on 31 March 2027 (reference: 24/25 CC03).


Further, it was anticipated that a further saving of £0.850m would be achievable in 2027/28 which was beyond the current MTFP period. This plan aimed to deliver a total saving of £1.915m over a 4-year period, replacing the original saving of £1.848m that was incorporated into the 2023/24 budget to deliver £0.787m in 23/24 and £1.061m in 2024/25 which had been determined to be undeliverable as originally planned. Due to the operational activity being brought online during 2024/25 the savings will be realised from 2025/26.


The Children’s Services Financial Improvement plan approved in February 2023 included elements of increasing the in-house estate for Children’s care. During the course of the 12 months significant efforts were made to identify suitable properties to bring online. These efforts were hampered for two key reasons:

1.    At the commencement of the year significant time was spent exploring a large property which could have met the needs of our 16+ cohort. Months exploring this including the refurbishment feasibility were undertaken, however it transpired there were issues with the refurbishment and build that had already been undertaken which would have left a legal liability on the local authority to resolve. The focus on this area led to a delay in project achievements.

2.    The cost of refurbishment, when seeking to convert any existing council asset to a residential home were prohibitive and did not represent value for money. This had therefore led to a strategy for future consideration being the identification of suitable properties with minimal renovation work required.


Under the revised plan, Middlesbrough Council would reduce the use of the external high-cost placements and grow the residential and supported accommodation offer, by increasing Middlesbrough Council’s in house offer and building partnerships with commissioned providers.


Middlesbrough Council’s residential and supported accommodation occupancy was mainly high (residential homes 95% in January 2024, supported accommodation 100% and higher needs supported lodgings 78%), which meant that Middlesbrough Council could not place any more children in their own lower costing, higher quality residential and supported accommodation placements.


Instead, Middlesbrough Council were using external organisations to provide homes for Middlesbrough children and young people, which on average, comes at a higher cost than Children’s Services provides. On average, Middlesbrough Council residential homes cost £3,300 per week to operate, and on average currently the average cost of an external residential children’s home placement was £5,600 per week.


Middlesbrough Council had forecast that the current active 76 external residential placements for children with a total forecast cost of £14.4m for 2023/24 (after contributions from Health and Education as of December 2023).


The Executive Member for Children’s Services thanked officers for their involvement in the creation of the report.


ORDERED that Executive approve the revised approach which is built into the proposed 2024/25 budget and MTFP 2024/25 to 2026/27.


AGREED that Executive:


1.    Note the reasons why the original plan could not be delivered and its removal from the MTFP.

2.    Note further savings that will be incorporated into future MTFP periods.




Several alternatives have been put forward by the Head of Service for

Placements, and the Head of Commissioning and Procurement. These options were considered by the Director of Children’s Care.


The options for this decision were detailed in the table at paragraph 5.1 of the report.




As of January 2024, Middlesbrough had 528 children and young people in care. 97 in residential care, 372 in foster placements and 59 placed for adoption, placed with parents, living independently, staying in an NHS/Health trust placement, family centre/mother and baby unit and in a Youth Offending Institute.


Middlesbrough Council were currently paying for privately owned placements for children and young people, that were often situated outside of Middlesbrough. Some children and young people had reasons for living outside of the area, for example safeguarding concerns.


Middlesbrough Councils ambition was to increase inhouse placements homes for children and young people which was a more cost-effective solution and brought better outcomes for children at lower cost. These placements would provide medium term placements for children and young people with emotional and behavioural needs, with a particular focus on those who would otherwise be placed in more costly external settings. To complement the current and existing internal children’s residential and supported accommodation offer, partnerships would be formed with commissioned providers to provide additional placements for Middlesbrough children.

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