Monmouthshire considering charge for children’s care

A GWENT council committee is to look into charging for accommodation of children in care. The children and young people select committee of Monmouthshire will discuss how Conwy in North Wales has implemented a similar scheme early next year.

One councillor has warned the authority against implementing charging, suggesting at risk children could fall out of the grasp of social services.

According to the work programme for the committee councillors will scrutinise Conwy’s charging policy once it has had a chance to “embed”.

The committee discussed the issue in 2007 when a report suggested the council could save £30,000 by passing the costs of accommodation of children in care onto parents.

But that report acknowledged the policy could lead to family breakdown if parents are put off from approaching social services.

Conwy’s cabinet, which has yet to implement its charging policy, agreed earlier this year for the care of children whose parents have requested accommodation to be subject to charging.

“The policy would have no impact upon decisions that need to be made about the protection of children,” a spokeswoman for the council said.

She added the policy would be implemented in the autumn.

According to a Conwy cabinet report the most the council could charge by law is £118.60 for a child aged between 0 and 4 years, £135.10 for children aged 5-10 and £168.18 for 11-15 year olds.

Labour councillor Armand Watts warned the council against implementing the policy.

He said families may be reluctant to come forward if they know they will be charged, adding: “Those children may just fall under the radar.”

Monmouthshire’s children’s services head Tracy Allison said there were no plans to recommend charging at present.

Select committees are not decision making bodies, she said, and often look at how other authorities work.

Ms Allison added: “This does not mean recommendations for charging will be made but that the authority is constantly aware of the options it has to give families the best service possible.”