Why did Suffolk County Council spend thousands in one month on accommodation for young people in B&Bs?

Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council HQ

Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council HQ - Credit: Archant

Thousands of pounds were spent in one month on accommodating vulnerable Suffolk teenagers in bed and breakfasts, because “no immediate alternative was available”.

Suffolk County Council’s most recent financial spending data for September shows its Children and Young People’s department spent £32,000 on B&B stays, mainly in Lowestoft.

The council’s Labour group said there had been increasing use of B&Bs over the summer due to difficulties with the new “16+ provision” and an influx of newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum seekers.

A Labour spokesman said no other options were available when the young people were referred for accommodation “due to the high numbers of referrals coming into the team”.

One young person was still in a B&B earlier this month, and would be staying until his 18th birthday, the spokesman added.

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“He had been remanded and all other provisions had been exhausted.”

Gordon Jones, who is responsible for children’s services, education and skills at the county council, acknowledged there had been money spent on B&Bs but insisted it was smaller than the published figures suggested.

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“We have looked into this matter and the actual cost in September was £4,000, and not £32,000,” he added.

“The over-estimate was due to an internal accounting error which has now been rectified.

“This cost is part of an ongoing service provided by the council which supports vulnerable young people during times of crisis.

“Under very complex circumstances, short-term placements can be offered to those between the ages of 16 and 21 where no immediate alternative is available. All options are fully considered before offering a placement at one of these risk-assessed B&Bs.”

Have you been affected by this? Email andrew.hirst@archant.co.uk

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