Devon

Torbay Council: Number of children in care could be cut

Child with adult
Image caption Torbay Council plans to increase in-house fostering and reduce residential placements

The number of children in care could be cut by more than 40% in a bid to save a council millions of pounds.

Torbay Council plans to cut the number of children it looks after, through court orders or agreements with a child's parent, in a bid to save £7.1m over the next five years.

It also aims to increase fostering and reduce residential placements.

In 2013/14 it looked after 314 children, but by 2018/19 it plans to reduce the number to 180.

'Mountain to climb'

The Tory-led council said figures from the Audit Commission showed in terms of the number of children it looked after, it was currently "out of line" with other areas.

It added the target for 2018/19 was based on the average for "similar seaside towns".

Steve Darling, who leads Torbay Council's opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: "It's a bit of a mountain to climb."

He said the high number of children in care "must be turned around, mostly because of the sake of the children, but also because of the council's finances".

In 2013/14 the authority spent about £12.4m on looking after children and plans to reduce the budget to about £5.4m by 2018/19.

The plans will be discussed at a council meeting on Friday.

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