SHROPSHIRE councillors have welcomed moves to invest more than £1.2 million to keep looked-after children in the county.

Earlier this year it was revealed how a number of children with complex needs, and under the authority’s care, were living a “significant distance” from the county, including one in Glasgow and another in Cumbria.

The authority wanted the investment of £800,000 to develop a pair of two-bedroom homes for children with complex needs, plus a further £400,000 to provide suitable property to support young people who are preparing to return home or to foster care.

Cllr Peggy Mullock, who chaired a task and finish group investigating the issue, told today’s [Monday, September 17] cabinet meeting the council had a responsibility as a “corporate parent”.

She said: “We need to have somewhere in Shropshire to work with them and get them back to their families.

“The cost of being out of the county is astronomical but it is the children themselves we need to think about.

“They could be closer to home and more likely to work with us.”

The report noted that in the year to 2018 the service had faced an increase of £1.5 million in residential placement costs.

The annual cost of running the new homes for children with complex needs will be £1.23 million per year – a saving of around £150,000.

Cllr Nick Bardsley, portfolio holder for children’s services and education, said work was already under way to bring the proposals to fruition, adding: “I wholeheartedly endorse what the task and finish group have done.”

Leader of Shropshire Council Peter Nutting said: “This is part of the cultural change I would to see happening.

“This ia good example of how I see scrutiny going forward.”

The proposals were supported by the People’s Overview Committee in July.

Cabinet members agreed for a detailed business case be drawn up and to return to scrutiny by the end of the month.