The Competition and Markets interim report on children’s social care outlines significant concerns about the availability of placements and the profits of private providers.
The initial findings are the result of a market study that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched in March. The study’s interim report provisionally finds that there is evidence of a shortage of appropriate places for children and that high prices are often being paid to place them.
The interim report finds that there are too often no placements available, in children’s homes, with foster carers or in independent accommodation, that fully meet the needs of children – with some being too far away or requiring siblings to be separated.
The CMA will be testing these initial findings, looking in more depth at profits in the market and exploring possible solutions to these issues for the study’s final report, which is due to be published in March 2022.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said “We are concerned this is a failing system, with children not being placed in the right homes while providers are being allowed to charge high prices and make big profits.”
Vulnerable children rely on these services, but too many are being placed in accommodation that does not meet their needs. And despite many placements not being suitable, local authorities, funded by taxpayers, are paying more than they should to provide them. The levels of debt we have seen being carried by private equity-owned firms is also a real concern due to the effect a firm in financial distress could have on the children in their care.
We are now considering ways to tackle these issues, including recommendations to the UK and devolved governments, and are inviting comments on these. Our priority remains identifying the best ways to ensure children can get the right care.”
Read the full report here.