Our latest update for the Local Government Association confirms the growth in size and profitability of the largest children’s services providers.
The CMA have recommended actions to address the imbalance they described in the sector, but in our view these do not go far enough, and do not recognise the important role of the smaller providers that were not included in these studies.
At the core of the challenge is the need to protect children from the influence that commercial factors might have on decisions made that impact on their lives. This includes decisions made in commissioning, procurement and in service delivery.
The pan-national scale of the larger providers renders ineffective the different national agendas and the CMA proposals for a patchwork of sub-national commissioning. It is time for bold and assertive engagement with providers to reduce volatility, secure long term access to services where they are needed, and to partner with the economic efficiency that the results in our study clearly demonstrate.
It is time to re-cast the out of date price-per-week models and to break down commercial barriers and attitudes. It is time to support robust and long term study of the know-how that exists in service provision and the impact that providing the right services in the right places at the right time can help children to achieve.
The CMA clearly identify that individual local authorities cannot do this alone. We’re therefore calling on Ministers and the Care Review to grasp these challenges.