The homes are Chamberlain Road in Billesley, Fountain Road in Harborne, Kings Lodge in Oscott and South Acre and Viscount House, which are both in Dudley. GMB say their closure will cost 170 jobs, and the council expect to save £3m.
However, the last time they closed children’s homes it ended up costing 41% more with some of the most vulnerable people in Birmingham being sent to care homes hundreds of miles away from their city.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Coun Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services, said:
For the vast majority of looked-after children, it is far better they grow up in a settled family environment as this improves their life chances, both emotionally and in terms of educational achievement.
However, there will be a small number whose needs are better suited to residential care and we will be concentrating our resources in fewer children’s homes in order to focus on the needs of these young people.
Tom from Birmingham Against the Cuts said:
The council expect an increase in fostering to cover for the loss of homes for children in care, but they are also cutting the budget for fostering by £1m so it’s not at all clear how they think this will happen. Nonetheless, they have set an “ambitious target” to increase the number of foster families by 50% – from 600 to 900 in order to cover the loss of these 5 homes. When this doesn’t happen, they will instead pay far more to house these children far away from the city they have grown up in, something which may have a devastating affect on someone who really needs stability and security in their life.
Recent threats to close Charles House and Cambourne House were seen off following campaigns led by parents and supported by local anti-cuts activists. Both these houses provided respite care for disabled children – the big worry with the homes now under threat is that the children in care who will be affected do not have parents that will campaign for them.
It is therefore even more important that their communities – the people of Birmingham – stand up and stop these closures, to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our city.
If you leave near any of the homes under threat, please write to your councillor and ask them to explain how they expect to house these children with foster parents whilst also cutting the fostering budget, and why they think this move will not end up costing more money, as it did last time Birmingham City Council closed children’s homes.