To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the commissioning process is for looked-after children services, with particular reference to the length of contract and conditions for renewal; what the conditions for the tendering process are; and if he will make a statement.
The Department does not mandate a single commissioning process for looked-after children services. Each top tier local authority operates a commissioning process in accordance with their standing orders, any relevant European procurement requirements and their obligations in the Children Act 1989. Issues such as length of contract, conditions for renewal and tendering processes are therefore at local authority discretion.
The Department has, however, taken steps to support better commissioning across the whole of children's services. These include publishing the "Joint Planning and Commissioning Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services", supporting a working group led by local authorities and provider organisations developing standardised national contracts for independent and non-maintained special schools and residential care, and developing children in care regional commissioning pilots, which will support local authorities by making available a choice of placements for each child, leaving final decisions about individual placements in the hands of social workers, in discussion with children themselves.