Additional funding required to fund four new Notts children’s homes

Increasing house prices and building material costs mean Nottinghamshire Council needs significantly more funding to deliver four new children’s homes.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:55 am

Council documents show the authority must increase its budget by 25 per cent to deliver the new, two-bedroom homes, which were approved nearly two years ago to bring more services in-house and tackle a foster care market decribed as ‘in crisis’.

The council approved the programme in March 2020, days before the coronavirus pandemic struck, and said the homes would offer a ‘more appropriate, community-based setting’ for the service.

Figures show there are currently about 1,000 children in the council’s care, up from 780 in September 2017.

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Minster View Children's Home, Southwell.

About 150 of the children, mainly aged 10-16, live in children’s homes.

The numbers have continued to ‘increase markedly’ over the years in line with the national picture, but come amid the backdrop of increased difficulties for councils in managing the numbers of children needing care.

A national shortage of foster carers and increasing charges from the private sector are making the service more costly for the council.

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About 90 per cent of the current 150 children’s home placements are provided by the private sector in Nottinghamshire.

The authority has already committed to closing Minster View Care Home, Southwell, and outlined plans to invest in more community-led facilities.

Now it is looking to boost its investment in the two-bedroom homes programme, which was put on hold when the pandemic hit.

The programme was initially given a budget of £380,000 per home, based on 2019 estimates.

However, a 16 per cent rise in average house prices and a 17.6 per cent rise in building material costs since November 2019 means each home is now estimated to cost about £475,000.

The council’s finance committee will be recommended to approve a 25 per cent increase in the project’s budget, equating to £380,000, when it meets on January 12.

It comes as the authority revealed the location for one of its new two-bedroom homes will be Hagg Farm Cottage, near Ilkeston.

The council estimates this home will cost significantly more to deliver than initially budgeted, at £693,000, with the committee recommended to approve the additional £258,000 required.

However, the council states the home will prove cost-effective, reducing the cost of placements by about £1,000 per week for each child.

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