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(UK) Brighton: Rise in 'children with increasingly complex needs'; $3.6M overspend

Jan 4, 2023, Yahoo News: Council cut non-essential spend amid £3m schools, children and families budget gap

S. England

The council said that it had put a stop to all non-essential spending to try to reduce a £3 million [$3.6M] gap in its budget for schools, children and families.

More than half of the sum relates to home to school transport and children’s social care. But a shortage of foster parents means that more youngsters are being placed in children’s homes at much greater cost.

And an increase in demand for the council’s home to school transport service combined with a shortage of drivers, escorts, contractors and vehicles has added to existing financial pressures.

The problems are set out in a report to Brighton and Hove City Council’s children, young people and skills committee which is due to meet next Monday.

The report said that all care packages were under review and that officials were looking at other ways to tackle the overspending.

The report said: “The post-pandemic period has seen children with increasingly complex needs as well as problems in foster care recruitment causing an acute sufficiency issue making placing children in families either in-house or with external providers very difficult.

“This has inevitably led to increasing numbers of children being placed in residential homes or very expensive semi-independent placements.

“The number of resident children in care has reduced although the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children has increased, accounting for 15 per cent of our children in care numbers.”...

More children and young people are also in specialist schools outside Brighton and Hove as part of their “education, health and care plan”....

“A benchmarking exercise is under way to ascertain the scale of the problem by the Department for Education who have declared that nationally home to school transport is at significant risk of failure due to these unprecedented issues.
“There is increasingly less capacity in the local system to meet increasing demand, not just in the numbers of children requiring transport but the nature of the transport requirements.”

All job vacancies are being scrutinised to determine whether they can be filled by redeploying staff or increasing people’s hours, the report said.

But part of the challenge arises because care workers and social care staff are required to maintain statutory services – those required by law.

Officials are looking ways to tackle the overspending


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