Council faces £4m overspend as more vulnerable children moved out of Rotherham

Increasing numbers of vulnerable children being moved out of Rotherham has contributed to the council facing a £4m overspend in its young people’s budget.

There are currently 36 children from the town in out-of-area residential care placements - where children are moved to care homes in different parts of the country, often to safeguard them from abusers.

This is four higher than the 32 children from Rotherham in such placements in September, while the forecast overspend in the children’s and young people’s service has gone up from £3.5m to £4m on its £43.2m budget.

A report going to Coun Christine Beaumont, cabinet member for children and education services, said the £500,000 increase in the last month was largely related to extra costs from paying for out-of-area care placements.

Council financial manager Joanne Robertson said £2.9m more than expected is currently being spent on such placements, with an additional £365,000 also going on independent fostering placements.

She said a review of placements has been taking place to help ‘mitigate the pressures’ on the service.

“This is to consider how many children are likely to remain in the placement until adulthood, how many children may be returned to Rotherham and how many could be moved or converted in to another form of permanent arrangement,” she said.

Each out-of-area placement is costing an average of over £3,300 per week.

Currently, more than 400 children in Rotherham are classified as being ‘looked-after’, with 109 with independent foster carers and 170 in council-run foster placements.

Concerns were raised about the use of out-of-area placements to protect abused children in the Jay report.

The inquiry said while the policy can work, there were times where it actually increased the risks to children when abusers could still contact them.