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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Comment on CMA’s interim report on children’s social care

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

“The CMA’s interim report on children’s social care has outlined a number of concerns which the Association has been raising with government for some time, critically that the ‘offer’ from independent residential care providers has not developed in line with children’s needs creating a mismatch between supply and demand. Local authorities are the sole purchasers of placements, yet excessive profits are being made by some providers on the backs of vulnerable children. This is wholly wrong and not in the best interests of these vulnerable children and young people.

“Children’s services have long operated in a mixed economy with private, voluntary, charitable and community providers involved in the delivery of services locally, but multi-million-pound mergers between providers are becoming commonplace. The high and increasing levels of debt being held by private equity firms is of real concern when considering the potential disruption that exiting the market could have on the children in their care. Added to this, a shortage of appropriate placements at high prices puts more pressure on the system. As the report notes, the way the placement market is functioning is contributing to poor outcomes for children.

“The interim report finds that the excessive profits being made are higher than would be expected in a “well-functioning market”. This is difficult to reconcile as the impact of a decade of austerity continues to bite in local government alongside the impact of the pandemic. Meaningful change is needed and ADCS calls on government to implement legislation which prevents for-profit operations or as a minimum caps the level of fees chargeable in fostering and residential services, similar to that in Scotland. Local authorities would be able to reinvest some of this money and develop more in-house provision and earlier intensive support, closer to the communities in which children grow up. The system must be driven by children’s needs, not maximising profits.”


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