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Competitions and Markets Authority calls for national and regional oversight of ‘dysfunctional’ children’s social care market

The Competitions and Markets Authority has called for a major overhaul of the children’s social care market which, it says, is blighted by high costs and offering poor value for money to the taxpayer.

The Commissions’ final report notes that there are significant problems in how the placements market is functioning including:

  • A lack of placements of the right kind, in the right places, meaning children are not consistently getting access to care and accommodation that meets their needs.
  • The largest private providers of placements are making materially higher profits, and charging materially higher prices, than they would expect if this market were functioning effectively.

They also note that some of the largest private providers are carrying very high levels of debt, creating a risk that that they could fail dramatically disrupting the placements of children in care.

Chief Executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli said: "The UK has sleepwalked into a dysfunctional children’s social care market. This has left local authorities hamstrung in their efforts to find suitable and affordable placements in children’s homes or foster care.

“There are several areas where national governments should make changes to address issues in the sector, including new financial oversight of providers and the development of new bodies to support local authorities with commissioning. With children’s social care currently being reviewed across the UK we want to see our recommendations reflected in any changes to policy.”

Read the full report here