The CMA published its interim report from the UK-wide Children’s social care market study last week.

Readers of over 80 pages in the report and 60 pages of appendices are invited to comment on it all by 12 November.

I for one welcome a couple of weeks to properly absorb the report, but my first thoughts are these:

  1. The CMA are not advocating for moves to restrict prices or profits as the way forward.
  2. Instead they identify the flaws in the current market as:
    “fundamentally a symptom of the underlying problem of insufficient supply of appropriate placements and the difficulties faced by local authorities in engaging effectively in this market”.
  3. The CMA did not find significant differences in assessed quality between local authority and independent provision.

These conclusions set up potential tensions around the UK.

Scotland and Wales are both adopting positions that potentially conflict with the CMA’s position, and in England the chair of the Independent Review is maintaining his position that “indefensible profits” are being made.

In an interview with my professional body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales earlier this year I described the risks of the various reviews producing a set of recommendations that can’t be properly funded, link below.

I’d now add to this a concern that the various ongoing reviews appear to be heading in different directions, and different countries within the UK are also diverging in approach.

Children and Young people who need care and support need the adults around them to design, operate and fund systems to provide for that care and support. I would suggest that children and young people are unlikely to benefit from divided opinions, directions and positions being taken by those adults. Perhaps it is time for the new Minister for Children and the Education Secretary to bring parties together to reconcile and redirect?