§ Mr. Carlisle
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether, within the framework of the regional plan for community homes for children in care, she is satisfied with the provision of community homes within the borough of Southwark;
(2) how many community homes, providing accommodation for how many children, are available within the borough of Southwark.
§ Dr. Owen
A regional plan represents the arrangements made and proposed jointly by the local authorities of a regional planning area for the accommodation of children in the care of all the relevant authorities taken together, and the Secretary of State for Social Services' function is to consider the plans in that light rather than to assess separately the provision made within the boundaries of, or for children in the care of, each authority separately. Specialised community homes, to be viable, must receive children from several authorities; in the special circumstances of the London regional planning area, moreover, use must be made of homes outside London, some of which are managed by London authorities and some by others.
My predecessor, in approving the London regional plan as a foundation for the development of further facilities to fill the gaps, invited the regional planning committee to give further consideration to certain aspects of it and to report the result of its review. This report has recently been received and is now being studied urgently. The committee has also accepted an invitation to discuss community homes with me on 20th June.
According to the regional plan in its present form, the number of community homes for which the borough council is responsible, or in whose management as assisted homes it participates, is 25, together providing 467 places.
§ Mr. Carlisle
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many children are at present in the care of the Southwark Borough Council.