Green Councillor Eleanor Combley has submitted an amendment to the Council’s budget, calling for two specialist children’s homes to be acquired for children with complex needs.
Councillor Combley said:
“Bristol’s current children’s homes are too large and unspecialised for children with complex social, emotional or mental health needs, so these children are often sent to homes far from the Bristol area. We know that for most children in care it is better to be closer to home, near their family and communities and where they can be supported by local social workers. In Bristol 1 in 10 children in care are placed more than 20 miles from their home.”
“Sending children far from home is not only often more disruptive for looked after children, but also more expensive for the Council, costing around £40k more a year. The Mayor’s budget proposes putting this money into the Council’s reserves. Instead, I would like to see it invested to set up two small, specialist children’s homes here in Bristol. Using some of the money the Council puts aside for a rainy day now will reduce the amount the Council spends in the longer term while improving our children’s services at the same time.”
Councillor Combley will put her amendment to the Budget meeting on the 20th February, where it will be voted on by all Councillors. It is one of a number of Green amendments that look for creative ways to find additional money as funding cuts put yet more pressure on front line services.
“Across the country Councils are facing further cuts and frontline children’s services are being pushed to breaking point. According to the Local Government Association a child was referred to local authority services every 49 seconds last year and children’s care will be facing a £2billion funding gap by 2020. We desperately need more funding from Government to support children in care, but our children can’t afford to wait for this Government to come to its senses, which is why I am proposing we should take this action now.”
The full text for Councillor Combley’s amendment can be found on p454 of the Council’s budget papers: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/g2705/Public%20reports%20pack%2020th-Feb-2018%2014.00%20Full%20Council.pdf?T=10
The LGA reported earlier this year the extent of the crisis in children’s services: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/child-referred-childrens-services-every-49-seconds-councils-warn
The funding crisis to children’s services was also covered in the Bristol Post: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/child-protection-at-breaking-point-310173