£1m support for looked after children

 A £1m award from the Department for Education’s innovation fund will help Merton Council 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 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 Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich aim to improve the supply of affordable, high-quality accommodation for looked after children that provides them with a safe and happy home life and helps them reach their full potential.

Councillor Katy Neep, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The provision of safe, secure accommodation and fostering placements is a key part of our commitment to ensure our young people get the best start in life.

“Through funding we will be able to continue to ensure that this commitment is delivered.”

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

The partnership’s growing influence is expected to help new businesses enter the market to deliver 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.


The South London Commissioning Programme, which was launched in September 2013, is a partnership of 10 South London Boroughs (London Boroughs of Merton, Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Bexley, Lewisham, Wandsworth, Richmond and the Royal Boroughs of Kingston and Greenwich).

Much of its work is the first of its kind in the country.

To date, the partnership has focused on improving outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs by supporting the boroughs to commission good quality placements at a fair price and sharing good practice across the boroughs.