England

Birmingham children's homes to be run by firm

Five children's homes in Birmingham will be run by the private sector under plans agreed by the city council.

The local authority said it would provide greater flexibility and improve the chances for young people in care.

It said the homes would be offered as "going concerns", meaning the young people and staff would be taken on by any third party.

In all, 176 young people are in residential care in Birmingham.

'Best possible childhood'

Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and families, said: "We want the majority of our children in care to live in family settings where their life chances can really improve, but there will always be a small number who need residential care.

"The most important thing is that our young people have the best possible childhood, and the proposal to move these homes to specialist, dedicated agencies are focussed on achieving just that."

She said the plans to offer the homes as going concerns, rather than contracting out services, would mean staff and children would be protected.

Consultations have opened and the council said it would be offering the homes out to tender.

The local authority said performance at two of the homes was "consistently good", but that it decided to have a common policy for all five.

Five other homes for children with disabilities will remain under council control, while the cabinet also backed the permanent closure of two homes which were shut in December after being rated inadequate by Ofsted.

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