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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Comment on CMA final report

Commenting on the CMA’s final report on children’s social care, ADCS President Charlotte Ramsden said:

“The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) final report on children’s social care reiterates several important issues that ADCS has been raising with government for many years, specifically access to and costs of suitable placements for children in care, all whilst the largest providers make “materially higher profits”. We welcome the report sharing our concern that “children are not consistently getting access to care and accommodation that meet their needs”. Local authorities, as the sole purchasers of placements, pay thousands of pounds a week for placements for children in their care. Yet providers can pick and choose which referrals to accept and at what cost due to demand.

“The report rightly highlights the important role national government needs to play in contributing to these challenges being addressed. Recommendations in respect of the increased role of local authorities in recruiting more foster carers and for government to support this are welcome, as is the identification of profit making in this crucial work. ADCS remains concerned about the growing levels of risk in the system due to rapid changes in ownership and considerable levels of borrowing and debts held by some private companies. Should any of these providers fail, no single local authority could step in, and it would be children who suffer the greatest consequence. As the CMA notes, the current level of risk of disruption to children’s accommodation and care is unacceptable.

“We are disappointed that the CMA did not go further on limiting for profit provision or placing a limit on prices or profits. Profiteering through public money on the basis of meeting children’s needs is unacceptable. Children’s services have long operated in a mixed economy with a range of providers involved in the delivery of services locally, yet multi-million pound mergers between providers are becoming increasingly common as is private equity. ADCS has previously called for the introduction of legislation which prevents for-profit operations or as a minimum caps the level of fees chargeable in fostering and residential services. Whilst this cannot happen overnight and will take time to achieve, ADCS remains committed to the aspiration of moving to a not-for-profit model.

“Behind each placement is a child with vulnerabilities in need of help and support. A comprehensive national placement strategy is needed, supported by regional and local working, to ensure the right placements are available in the right locations and at the right time, focused on being close to home, to enable children to maintain links and relationships that are important to them.”


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