Children: Social Services

Department for Education written question – answered at on 14 November 2023.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report by Become entitled Gone Too Far, published in April 2023, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her Department's policies of the proportion of local authorities that do not have a published sufficiency plan for children's social care.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Local authorities have a statutory duty set out in Section 22(3) of the Children’s Act 1989 to make sure that there is sufficient provision in their area to meet the needs of children in their care. Ofsted currently inspect local authorities’ children’s services and how they are meeting their range of statutory duties.

The department recognises that there are not enough of the right homes in the right places for children in care. The department wants to reduce out of area placements, but in some circumstances, it is the right decision for a child to be placed outside their home authority.

This Government is working to drive forward improvements at a national, regional, and local level to increase sufficiency and improve standards of care and regulations.

By 2027, there will be an increase in the availability of high-quality, stable, and loving homes for every child in care, close to where they are from. To achieve this, the department is supporting local authorities to increase care placements and ensure they meet children’s needs. The department has allocated £259 million of capital funding for secure and open children’s homes and over £27 million to deliver a fostering recruitment and retention programme.

In the longer-term, Regional Care Co-operatives (RCCs) will plan, commission and deliver children’s social care placements. Through operating on a larger scale and developing specialist capabilities, the RCCs will be able to develop a wide range of places to better meet children’s needs. This, in turn, should lead to improved placement stability and fewer out of area placements. The department is investing in two pathfinders to test the RCC model in collaboration with local authorities.

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