The Executive Member for People-Based Services and the Executive Director of Childrens Services submitted a report for the Executive's consideration.
The purpose of the report was to ensure that the appropriate agreement was obtained for the leasing arrangements, in respect of the expansion of the Council's edge of care provision for children aged 16+ at Daniel Court, for a ten year period - with effect from agreement date.
The cost of the lease was £60,000 per annum. The total cost over the term of the lease (10 years) would have been £600,000. The decision was over the £150,000 financial threshold and was therefore a key financial decision requiring Executive Member agreement.
Middlesbrough Council currently had 64 children in external residential placements, costing the authority in excess of £9,000,000. The current internal edge of care provision available to accommodate 16+ children in Middlesbrough was limited. Therefore, it was difficult to house children who required residential care locally or bring children placed in residential care at a distance, back to the area and close to their communities, which was proven to be best for most children.
The development of the edge of care provision within Middlesbrough planned to support the commissioning of better placements for children, at a better value of money for the Local Authority. The aim was to support children in care at risk of placement breakdown from a foster placement, or to offer therapeutic support to a child and family to prevent a child from becoming looked after.
Children's Services were focussing on increasing specialist provision for children aged 16+, as the complexed needs associated with vulnerable adolescents required a specialist intervention tailored to the specific needs of that age cohort.
Daniel Court had been identified as an appropriate property to support children aged 16+ who met the eligibility criteria for edge of care support. The lease over a 10 year period would have cost £600,000, however, the financial savings that would have been created and the non-financial benefits to children significantly outweighed that cost (paragraphs 20 to 23 of the submitted report contained further details in respect of associated financial savings).
The Childrens Services Directorate had savings of £4,982,000 to achieve by April 2022 of which the proposal played an important part in the delivery of.
To do nothing would have been seen as not appropriately supporting the LAC population of Middlesbrough and not responding to the financial pressures that the Directorate currently had given how the LAC population were currently accommodated.
For a development of that kind it was imperative that the building was of the correct size and had the appropriate configuration to allow the young people to live semi independently but with sufficient support to keep them safe. In addition the property had to be in a part of town that was deemed low risk for the young people in terms of possible exploitation by criminal networks.
Applying the criteria in paragraph 14 of the submitted report, no other building was deemed appropriate in the local area to provide the level of accommodation that Daniel Court offered (9 self-contained flats) for the 16+ population.
The Council was keen to explore the option to purchase Daniel Court outright rather than lease but that was not possible as Thirteen were unwilling to sell due to the divesting that type of property not fitting with their preferred business model. Therefore, in the interests of progressing quickly with the savings, it was decided to proceed with the lease.
Proceeding with the lease also had the advantage of Thirteen carrying out the estimated £300,000 of capital works required to bring the property up to the required standard.
That the 10 year lease with Thirteen Group of Daniel Court in relation to the expansion of the Councils edge of care provision, which is designed to support the management and accommodation of the Councils LAC population, be approved.
The Council needed to ensure that it had the appropriate provision to accommodate its Looked After Children (LAC) population. The provision planned to ensure that savings were achieved in line with the Directorates savings requirement. 2019/20 savings would have been approximately £700,000 gross, (£445,000 net) from moving externally placed LAC to the Daniel Court accommodation, with a full year saving of approximately £1,100,000 gross, (£519,000 net).
Thirteen had committed to spend £300,000 in ensuring that the accommodation was brought up to the required standard that the local authority felt was needed.
Provision on high quality, in house, accommodation for looked after young people aged 16 and 17 planned to allow them to receive a consistent service and let Council services work with them to ensure that they were as independent as possible when they left the care system at 18.
Working with Thirteen also allowed relationships to be built to help young people access a tenancy of their own when they left care and moved onto live independently.