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Cabinet agrees next steps for more than £12 million investment to support young people

Wiltshire Council leaders have agreed next steps to provide supported accommodation and residential care homes for care experienced young people and young people seeking asylum in Wiltshire.

Published 7 May 2024

Wiltshire Council leaders have agreed next steps to provide supported accommodation and residential care homes for care experienced young people and young people seeking asylum in Wiltshire.

The council has agreed an investment of more than £12m to provide homes and now Cabinet has agreed to undertake procurement exercises to identify providers to operate the new supported accommodation.

On 20 February, Full Council approved a capital investment of £10.560m to provide housing for 68 care experienced and asylum seeking young people and £1.6m to provide children's residential homes for children with complex needs in Wiltshire. This funding will enable the council to provide accommodation and commission providers.

At its meeting on 7 May, Cabinet agreed to undertake two procurement exercises to commission external Ofsted registered providers with both contracts in place for five years, with the option to extend for a further five years.

The additional capacity in supported accommodation will enable more care experienced young people and unaccompanied young people seeking asylum to stay within Wiltshire, close to their communities and support networks. The additional residential children's home capacity will also meet the current and future demand to support children with complex needs.

As well providing a stable and supportive environment for young people, the investment in additional capacity will also save on costs, as many young people are currently being placed in a variety of accommodation which is more costly than necessary due to market pressures.

Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "This additional investment for care experienced young people, unaccompanied young people seeking asylum, and residential home accommodation for young people within these groups with complex needs, means we can provide stable and supportive accommodation to meet current and future demand. This investment will improve outcomes for young people through enhanced accommodation close to communities, education, transport links and workplace opportunities. It also forms part of our preventative approach to council finances, investing money now to save on higher costs in the future from expensive private and out of county placements.

"This investment will empower our young people to live full, healthy and enriched lives which is a key priority in our successful business plan approach. It also follows our guiding themes which are woven throughout the approach we take to delivering services of 'prevention and early intervention' and 'improving social mobility and tackling inequality'.

"Crucially, this accommodation means more young people can stay within Wiltshire, close to their communities, friends and established support networks with council services. This continuity is key to young people being successfully independent in terms of their health, wealth and emotional wellbeing.

"We are passionate about our role as corporate parents and this investment in high quality accommodation will help us to ensure care experienced young people have the springboard they need to achieve their full potential as they reach adulthood and leave their care settings."

Wiltshire Council has a legal obligation to fulfil its statutory duties under section 23C of the Children act 1989 and the Children and Social Work Act 2017 which places a duty on local authorities to provide ongoing support to care experienced young people. The council recognises the importance of its role as 'corporate parents' and continually develops its offer of inclusive housing which is close to transport links, education and workplace opportunities in Wiltshire to give care experienced young people the best start in life. The council also has a legal duty to the National Transfer Scheme to provide homes for unaccompanied young people seeking asylum.

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