Essex

Essex children's homes sell-off plans approved

Plans to sell off residential children's care homes in Essex have been approved by county councillors.

The county council wants to sell the care homes to private companies or voluntary groups to save money and improve services.

If it cannot find a buyer the homes will be closed, resulting in possible redundancies for 128 staff.

On Tuesday evening the county council's cabinet unanimously voted in favour of the proposals.

The full council will vote on whether to approve the plans on 14 December.

Connexions closed

If they are given the go-ahead the 44 children currently living in the homes would be placed elsewhere.

The homes that would be affected provide mainstream residential care for vulnerable children.

Together they cost £7.5m a year to run and some have been judged as "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors in recent years.

Essex County Council has already outsourced its adult residential care. It sold its last 10 adult residential care homes to Excelcare Holdings Plc in 2005.

During Tuesday's meeting the cabinet also agreed to close the Connexions service, which provides careers advice to young people, to save money because of budget cuts.

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