£1 million award will help Sutton Council meet needs of children in care

A £1 million award from the Department for Education’s innovation fund will help Sutton and five other south London boroughs lead the way on meeting the needs of children in care.

The funding will be used to improve access to high-quality residential care and fostering placements for children who are in the care of local councils.

The successful bid was submitted by six members of the South London Commissioning Programme, a partnership of ten boroughs, started in 2013.

By combining their buying power and developing shared systems the London boroughs of Sutton, Croydon, Merton, Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich aim to improve the supply of affordable, high-quality accommodation for children in care to provide them with a safe and happy home life and help them reach their full potential.

Councillor Wendy Mathys, Chair of Sutton Council’s Children, Family and Education Committee: said: “We’re delighted the DfE have seen the benefits of our proposals and now we can develop a blueprint that is scalable and beneficial to any other local authorities across the country who may want to follow our lead.”

The funding will allow Sutton Council to build expertise that will significantly improve the way that services and placements are commissioned.

As the partnership’s influence grows it is expected it will be able to help new businesses enter the market to deliver the services that are needed in the right places.

The proposal also includes work with current children in care and their carers to involve them more in designing the shape of future services.

The partnership has already received widespread recognition for the work it has done to improve value for money in local government and has won accolades including the LGC Award for Efficiency. This was judged and awarded by the National Audit Office and was awarded for delivering enhanced services for children and young people with special educational needs across 10 boroughs – the first of its kind in the country.