Special guardianship Order fees need to reduce in times of financial austerity says council.
A London borough is proposing to reduce the fees it pays to Special Guardians.
The London Borough of Barnet says that here is a strong case for reducing the rates paid to special guardians in the borough and reducing the rates would tackle a projected overspend of around £106,000.
“Barnet is paying rates to special guardians that are significantly higher than the minimum inner-London rates as recommended by the DfE,” said a document from the council. “Maintaining high rates which are the product of historical decisions, is not sustainable in a climate of financial austerity and does not offer parity with other types of caring support.”
The councils adds that:
- There is an estimated £106,000 overspend with high risk attached to the area of spend with demand set to rise.
- Efficiency savings and streamlining has taken £75K from the June 2015-march 2016 budget but additional savings cannot be realised without an alignment of rates
- There has been a significant increase in the number of special guardians receiving the allowance in the last four years.
- There is scope to reduce rates while still providing sufficient support to SGOs.
The council points out that despite the government’s drive to increase the number of children in care being adopted the rigorous application by the courts of the principles set out in the case Re-BS means there has been an increased number of SGO’s issued.
There were 98 SGOs issued in 2005-6 which rose to 2,173 nationally in 2011-12. In Barnet, two SGOs were issued in 2005-6 compared to 28 in 2015-16.
Currently in Barnet, the SGO rate per child age 0-12 is £185 per week and for children aged 13 to 17 this rises to £244 per week. Under the council’s proposals, SGOs for children aged 0-2 would receive £142, children aged 3-5 would receive £145, those aged 6-10 would get £163, 11-15 year olds would get £184 and teenagers aged 16-17 would get £216 per week.
The council says this would make an average saving of £38.50 per child per week. Over three years this would make savings of almost £775,000 by 2018/19, said Barnet.
The six week consultation period will end late July and the final SGO rate for the council will be revealed in September.