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£1m innovation fund to lead the way on meeting needs of looked after children

A £1million award from the Department for Education’s innovation fund will help the Royal Borough of Greenwich and five other south London boroughs lead the way on meeting the needs of looked after children.

The proposed scheme will improve access to high-quality residential care and fostering placements for children who are in the care of local councils.

The successful bid was submitted by six members of the South London Commissioning Programme, a partnership of 10 boroughs. By combining their buying power and developing shared systems the London boroughs of Greenwich, Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Bexley and Lewisham aim to improve the supply of affordable, high-quality accommodation for looked after children that provides them with a safe and happy home and helps them reach their full potential.

Councillor Miranda Williams, the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “I’m so pleased that the Department for Education have seen the benefits of our proposals and now we can develop a blueprint that will enable local authorities across the country to follow in our footsteps.”

The funding will allow the South London Commissioning Programme to build expertise and develop systems that will significantly improve the ways that services and placements are commissioned.

As the partnership’s influence grows it is expected it will be able to help new businesses enter the market to deliver the services that are needed in the right places.

The proposal also includes work with current looked after children and their carers to involve them more in designing the shape of future services so they best meet their needs.

The partnership has already received widespread recognition for the work it has done to improve value for money in local government and has won accolades including the LGC Award for Efficiency. This was judged and awarded by the National Audit Office and was awarded for delivering enhanced services for children and young people with special educational needs across 10 boroughs – the first of its kind in the country.