In her April 2020 inaugural address, Jenny Coles, the new President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, discusses the possibility of “huge spikes in demand across the children’s social care spectrum” as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

If this forecast turns out to be true it will have a huge impact on a children’s services sector already in financial crisis before the virus struck. By November 2019 local authorities in England reported overspending their children’s services budgets for 2018/19 to the tune of £800m (Local Government Chronicle [LGC], 2019), with even higher spending anticipated for 2019/2020.

With the Treasury having to take unprecedented steps to prevent economic collapse since March 2020 the situation post-Coronavirus will be anything but normal. There may be little or no capacity for additional funding for local authorities and further forms of austerity cannot be ruled out.

Wholesale reappraisal of how all local authority services are funded and provided looks inevitable, with children’s social care and the way in which the services for the sector are commissioned and stewarded an essential ingredient needing redesign.

This discussion paper written by Andrew Rome, Director of Revolution Consulting, supported by IPC’s Director Keith Moultrie, considers how the historic commissioned interfaces with independent providers can be transformed to survive the aftermath of these unprecedented challenges. Supply management childrens services post crisis

For more information contact Keith Moultrie, Director of the Institute of Public Care, ipc@brookes.ac.ukor Andrew Rome, Director, Revolution Consulting contact@revolution-consulting.org

This is confirmation that in the report “Profit making and Risk in Independent Children’s Social Care Placements” (published today 27 February 2020) the results shown for Aldebury Holdings are the aggregated results for the whole group of companies including Blue Sky, Nexus and other acquired business. The collection of the different operations is also known in the sector as BSN Social Care.

 

Andrew Rome 27 Feb 2020

LGA have today published research carried out by Revolution Consulting in December and January.

The report covers a complex and detailed analysis, raising a number of issues and areas for further consideration and policy development.

Media coverage can only begin to highlight some of the issues.

Calm, considered and intelligent strategic responses are what the children at the heart of this need from the adults who hold responsibilities for stewardship of the sector.

 

https://www.local.gov.uk/private-childrens-social-care-company-debts-putting-childrens-care-risk-lga-warns

Link to C&YP Now coverage of Revolution Consulting report for ICHA

https://www.cypnow.co.uk/news/article/children-s-home-providers-to-expand-into-supported-accommodation-if-regulated

 

 

This is the sixth annual insight into the children’s homes sector based on a comprehensive survey of a representative sample of provider organisations who are members of the Independent Children’s Homes Association.

ICHA Jan 2020 survey final 12 Feb 2020

 

Municipal Journal article by Leonie Cowen and Andrew Rome

click here

 

C&YPNow have published this article related to the NCERCC/Revolution Consulting report on pricing:

 

 

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.

https://www.revolution-consulting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FoI-price-report-final-16-Feb-2020-1.pdf

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.

012_CYP_260219 Analysis EF

This is a link to a pdf of an article in March 2019 Children and Young People Now Magazine.

It contains ten “common sense” commercial ideas for local authority commissioners and strategists as to how to go about addressing the funding crisis.

 

Less than three weeks ago the Sun missed an opportunity to dig into the real causes of the crisis in funding for services for children in care, opting instead for sensationalist headlines while using poor evidence.

Today the Guardian similarly produced an article that fails our most vulnerable children because it fails to understand the picture or to address the fundamental issues.

“Vulnerable children treated ‘like cattle’ in care home system” is another depressing litany of cobbled together anecdotes, often about discrete and unrelated facts, and also includes a now-familiar moralistic attack on the private sector, allied to a damning assessment of local authority practice.

Almost all of my response to the Sun article (see “Time to stop the division”) applies equally to the Guardian article. I’m distressed that no part of the independent press is able to champion the cause of looked after children effectively.

The real issues are about the stand-off in funding clarity between central and local government and the failings of stressed councils to commission the markets they need, while the various Government bodies charged with improving the situation have yet to have an impact.

There is real substance available in those issues for a critical press to get its teeth into, and it should rightly also seek to properly understand and to challenge the effectiveness of the respective roles of the private sector, the public sector and others. The interests of looked after children would be far better served by addressing these issues and to do so using an increasingly sophisticated evidence base and studies.