Warrington’s population current estimate is 210,014 (mid-year estimate 2019). This represents an increase of 467 (0.2%) from the 2018 estimates. 

Natural change was less than in previous years (down to 157 people from 227 people in 2018) caused largely by a decrease in the number of deaths (1,959), combined with the continuing decrease in the number of births (down 2,116).

Of the 210,014 people in Warrington, 21.1 percent (44,391) are children aged under 18, 60.0 percent (125,978 ) are adults aged 18 to 64 and 18.9 percent (39,645 ) are aged 65 and over; 2.2 percent (4,599) of the resident population are 85 and over. This compares to 21.3% aged 0 to 17, 60.0% aged 18 to 64 and 18.7% aged 65 and over for the North West region as a whole, and 21.4%, 60.2% and 18.4% for England.

Breaking down Warrington’s population by age shows that there are 59,170 children and young people aged 0-24 in the borough. Warrington has a lower proportion of children and young people aged 0-17 (44,391) than commonly found across England and Wales (Mean = 50,964) and 18-24 year olds (14,779 compared to a Mean of 21,281). However, Warrington has a higher proportion of 0-17 years olds (44,391) when compared to NW local authorities (Mean = 40,089).

Although recent data for adults is not readily available, we can gauge the current ethnicity in Warrington’s children through the annual school census for Warrington schools. According to the January 2019 School Census, the average proportion of pupils classified as White British is approximately 85.8%, higher than the North West (75%) and England (66.1%).

In Warrington in 2019 the percentage of pupils from Asian origins was 3.3%, the percentage who were classified as Black ethnic origin was 0.8%, and those classified as mixed race made up 3.4% per cent of the school population. A further 4.3% per cent of the pupils were classified as any other white background ethnic origin.

In the North West region the percentage of the population who identified themselves as white was 90.2%, the percentage who identified as Asian or Asian British was 6.2%, the percentage who identified as black or black British was 1.4%, those who identified as mixed race made up 1.6% of the population and those who identified as other ethnic group made up 0.6% of the population. This compared to England where the percentage of the population who identified themselves as white was 85.4% , Asian or Asian British was 7.8%, black or black British was 3.5%, mixed race made up 2.3% and other ethnic groups made up 1.0% per cent of the population.

Warrington, like most places sees the vast majority of children living happily and safely within their own families.

A small number of children need to live away from their families on a temporary or permanent basis in a range of alternative care arrangements that include foster care, residential care and supported independent living. This statement covers our approach and success in meeting their needs.

The sufficiency duty requires local authorities to do more than simply ensure that accommodation is ‘sufficient’ in terms of the number of beds provided. We must also have a regard to the benefits of securing diverse provision and a range of services.

Fundamentally the accommodation available must meet the needs of our children. Through talking to children in care, along with wider research, it is clear what matters to them and what they would like:

  • Wherever they are to feel like a home, where they feel safe.
  • To trust and feel close to those that care for them.
  • To have choice and a say about where they live.
  • To have as much information about a placement before they move.
  • To have reassurance when they like a placement that they can stay there.

With the above in mind, in relation to sufficiency there are 5 critical areas, summarised below that this statement seeks to address:

  • Permanency Planning: Ensuring legal permanency is achieved for our children in care, underpinned by a commitment to permanency being our obsession, promoting reunification, special guardianship and adoption where appropriate.
  • Accommodation Options: the extent to which the range of provision and providers (internal and external) can meet the diverse and changing needs of children in care in a responsive way. The availability of different types of provision is essential to meet immediate, short and long-term needs of children and young people; including ethnic, cultural, physical and learning needs.
  • Placement Stability: children need to feel safe, attached to carers and in settings that provide stability and we must wherever possible limit changes which are known to be disruptive and have a negative impact on outcomes. Which in turn lead to further instability, increased need and higher placement costs.
  • High Quality and value for outcomes: Carers and those looking after children need to have the right skills, settings must be designed to meet the child’s needs and to offer them security. They also need good support. Alongside this there needs to be assurances that services are good value for money.
  • Early help and prevention: alongside the push for improving services when children come into care we want to prevent children, young people and families reaching crisis point.

Preventing needs escalating by addressing the conditions that contribute is central – this includes support to children in care that are reunified with families. Our Children in Care and Care Leavers Strategy 2018-21 is the framework by which agencies and services in Warrington will contribute to ensuring that children in care have the same opportunities as their peers to enable them to fulfil their potential, and make a good transition into adult life. The Strategy and sufficiency statement are aligned to ensure there are shared priorities for children and young people in care.

Key issues Summary

Key background influences and issues that affect our current sufficiency position and our ability to improve outcomes are summarised below:

  • A previous unprecedented increase in the number of children in care by 73%. (A rise of 169, from 232 in March 2014 to 401 in March 2018). Whilst the number of children in care has decreased and as of the 31st March 2020 is 364, we still have higher numbers of children in care per 10,000 when compared to our statutory neighbours and the England average.
  • We recognised that placement stability, is key to permanency planning and good outcomes for children. This involves not only in the continuity of placement but also in the support around the placement itself. It is important that we continue to focus on placement stability to ensure the least disruption to children’s life’s as possible.
  • A continuing pattern of older (aged14+) children needing care and protection with very complex needs and given the overall rise in care numbers – a rising number of care leavers.
  • Keeping children safe and managing risks associated with child / criminal sexual exploitation (contextual safeguarding) and missing from home episodes.
  • The challenge of finding emergency short term or urgent placements where stability and assessment are needed and medium/long term placements that offer security and permanence for a longer period.
  • Recruiting and retaining Warrington Borough Council foster carers that can meet the range and level of needs presented.
  • Supporting families under stress where children/young people have significant special needs that without support can lead to care.
  • In the North West, the continued demand for Independent Residential, Foster Carers and pressures on finding placements.
  • The need for a more diverse range of accommodation and support options for care leavers that need a blend of support and independence.