CMA says children appear to have been placed in unregulated accommodation, not as a positive choice but due to lack of availability of a suitable regulated placement

The largest private providers of children’s homes are now charging councils an average of £3,830 a week per child, with an average operating profit margin of 23%, according to the CMA’s interim report on children’s social care.

For fostering agencies, the average weekly price for fostering was about £820 a week, with an average operating profit margin of 19%.

Josh MacAlister, who is chairing the independent review of children’s social care in England, said the report showed the market was broken and failing too many children:

3.8 One particularly concerning indicator of a lack of supply of appropriate placement is the extent to which children appear to have been placed in unregulated accommodation, not as a positive choice but due to the lack of availability of a suitable regulated placement. For example, between April 2018 and March 2019 there were 660 looked-after children under the age of 16 placed in unregulated accommodation. In response to these concerns, the Department for Education has recently banned the placement of under- 16s in unregulated accommodation and committed to introducing national minimum standards for these settings. Although this should improve the situation by ensuring that one important category of children who were being inappropriately placed in unregulated accommodation are no longer placed there (under-16s), it will not in itself address the supply constraints in the regulated sector that drove local authorities to place them there to begin with and may indeed make them worse.

3.9 Taken together, this evidence suggests that the market is providing insufficient places to ensure that local authorities can consistently get access to placements for children that meet their needs. This conclusion is supported by the fact that local authorities, particularly those in England, told us that when they are seeking to place children they often have little or no choice of placement, for example finding at most one available placement that fits their basic criteria, which means that factors such as quality, fit, cost and location are less likely to determine placement decisions.

Children’s social care market study Interim Report

Read full piece at source: Children’s social care market study Interim Report

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