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I completely agree; that is another reason for more regulatory oversight, which I will call for. Perhaps this issue needs to come up in planning policy as well.
Central Bedfordshire sends very few of its own children out of the area. As a Bedfordshire Member of Parliament, I am simply not prepared to accept this wholly unacceptable diversion of police resources caused by other local authorities acting irresponsibly and using provision that no local authority in Bedfordshire would put its own children in.
It is not as if this provision is cheap, either. A typical cost per child in these unregulated homes is around £800 per week, which is £42,000 per child per year. Some unregulated provision will cost considerably more than that, and it is completely unacceptable that taxpayers are paying such enormous amounts of money to private businesses, some of which do an appalling job and are more interested in making money than in looking after vulnerable children.
Given that several members of staff that I spoke to when I visited some of these homes told me that they needed no training whatsoever to undertake this work, I suspect that rates of pay are low and significant profits are being generated for the directors of these companies. Who is overseeing value for money for taxpayers, who are having to fork out these enormous amounts per child for such poor quality provision, which in turn is placing a huge burden on other parts of the public sector such as the police?