Cuts to Lancashire children's homes defended

The leader of a council which has cut its budget for social services by 12% has defended the planned closure of children's homes in the county.

It comes after a BBC survey suggested there was a North-South divide in spending on social care following the government's Spending Review.

Lancashire County Council has been told to save £179m in the next three years.

Council leader Geoff Driver said closing five children's homes would lead to better care in the county.

He said the closures were taking place in line with advice from health professionals about how children should be looked after.

'Better care'

"The firm belief of the professionals is that putting them in these institutions on a long-term basis should be a last resort," he said.

"As a result of us changing that policy we will have five children's homes which are surplus to requirements.

"So we're not going to close them until we have implemented that policy, so that we can look after the children who come into our care much better and much more effectively."

The council is also looking at the possiblility of closing some of its eight respite centres for children with disabilities.

John Pearson, from Preston, said they were crucial to those coping with the pressure of caring for a family member.

His son James, 27, has severe disabilities and attended a respite centre when he was younger.

Mr Pearson said: "If these respite care centres are closed there are going to be more and more parents pushed to breaking point. And it is breaking point, you need that break."

Carers are meeting Mr Driver on Thursday to discuss their concerns about changes to services.

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