EXPLAINED as a long term saving, the idea of creating children’s residential homes is progressing and could be vital in bringing down cost in Powys County Council’s Children’s Service.

On Monday, January 27, councillors on the health and care committee met to discuss the budget proposals for PCC Social Services, both Adult’s and Children’s.

On total the budget savings for the next financial year, 2020/21 required is £6,291,000.

Cllr Dai Davies (Independent – Berriew) asked about a saving identified as CH03.

This was supposed to make a saving of £1,266,000 described in the draft budget report as “various proposals.”

Cllr Davies said:  “The question is, I would appreciate more than just various proposals when you’re looking at over £1.2 million of budget savings.

“Can we get an idea or more detail?”

Head of children’s service, Jan Coles explained that this was to cover three  aspects including the development of children’s homes in Powys, bringing children closer to home and increasing foster care provision.

Other reports and impact assessment in the draft budget bundle had more detail.

Cllr Roger Williams, (Liberal Democrat – Felinfach) said: “There is a history of not making savings which have been put forward for a budget.

“Given the complexity of acquiring these buildings for more than one chilkdren’s home, what sort of confidence do you have that this can be done?”

Ms Coles explained: “We need the infrastructure to be able to provide the placements for children here.

“It just simply hasn’t been there and we have got to put it in to place.”

Ms Coles explained that PCC needed it’s own foster carers, short break providers right through “the whole gamut of placements” through residential provision and accommodation for young people aged 16 and over.

Ms Coles added: “Until we have that infrastructure right we will not be able to keep our children in their communities and we will continue to rely on placements which are provided by the private sector.

“We have to do this, unless we do this we will be unable to bring children closer to home because we have nowhere to bring them to.”

She explained that keeping them closer to home meant there was a better chance of them returning to their families which would reduced costs.

“It’s a key part of the strategy,” said Ms Coles.

Grant funding bids have been made to the Welsh Government and PCC itself to try and help fund the proposals.

Cllr Amanda Jenner (Conservative – Trewern) asked: “Has there been a business case made?

“When will we see that so that we can have some confidence that the capital funding is justified.”

Head of finance Jane Thomas answered: “A strategic outline case has already been received and on the back of that this was approved to go to the next stage which is an outline business case.

“No money would be released until that is concluded.”

Ms Coles added: “At the moment  placements are going to the highest bidder.

“The market is working against us and we have to do something to arrest that situation.”

Ms Coles added that she believed that one home would be needed in north Powys and one in the south.

This would build on the residential and respite provision for children and young people with complex needs at Bannau and Camlas in Brecon.

Cllr Dai Davies closed the topic by saying he now understood what the “various proposals meant.”