Herefordshire spent over £6.2 million on the care of five children in a single year, it has been revealed.

Herefordshire Council said in response to a Freedom of Information request that its five costliest placements of children in its care in the 2022/23 financial year came to over a million pounds each, with the most expensive coming in at £1,524,164.

The average cost to the council of a looked-after child over the year was £79,354. In this period it paid nearly £29 million to third-party care organisations, and spent a further £4 million on agency and contracted staff, the FOI response shows.


A council spokesperson said: “In any local authority area there will be a small number of children and young people with particularly complex needs which can only be met in specialist provision. They will often require high levels of supervision and intense or specialist support, including health or therapeutic support, that is very costly.

“The majority of children in the care of Herefordshire Council have much lower levels of need for support and specialist care, and are placed within foster care and where possible with carers within the extended family and with whom the child may have a connection.”

The council’s figures at the end of July show that it had a total of 404 children in care, of whom 271 were in foster care and a further 24 in residential care.


In 2022 Herefordshire had a rate of 112 children in care per 10,000, well ahead of the national figure of 70 per 10,000, and nearly twice its own rate of ten years previously. Put another way, one child in 89 in the county was in care.

The council is on track to overshoot its budget by £13.5 million this financial year, with its children’s services department accounting for £10.6 million of this. The same department overspent by £9.6 million in the last financial year.

“A lack of suitable local children’s social care placements is a key driver in the above-inflation increases in residential placement costs, with many children placed out of county to ensure their needs are met,” a council budget report said last month.