The National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) and Revolution Consulting have published a report providing new insight and reference for anyone involved in children’s social care.

This third report, continuing the research carried out over a six-year period into prices paid by local authorities for independent sector children’s homes places , is  based on three extensive Freedom of Information disclosures by local authorities in England. In this report prices of local authority homes are also included. 9535 placement costs were included.

The headline results show:

  • The average price paid for a children’s homes place in the private and voluntary sector in the year to 31 March 2019 was £3,970 per week.
  • The range and profile of prices paid demonstrates an underlying complexity of needs and services.
  • Prices have increased on average by around 6% per annum since 2013, with some evidence of an acceleration in more recent years.
  • Local Authority homes priced on an equivalent basis to the independent sector cost 20% more than independent sector places at £4,750 per week.
  • The results are consistent with the findings of the Personal Social Services Research Unit’s annual unit cost calculations based on local authority returns to the Department for Education .

Stanley and Rome commented:

The work shows the importance of research and evidence underpinning all discussions and policy.

Along with forthcoming publications from local government and from provider organisations in relation to profitability and costs this report provides expert research material for the impending independent government care review.

The finding that local authority homes are more expensive is a vital piece of information in the discussion of the future funding of children’s homes. Increasing independent sector prices confirm the view of various preceding studies that local authority commissioning and procurement practices have had a limited impact.

Those involved in strategies for the care of children must engage with the complexity of the situation; simplification of the issues will not suffice.