ICHA Response to the Times - “Firms charging £10,000 per week to look after single child in care” (17.6.21)

Response to The Times: “Firms charging £10,000 per week to look after single child in care” 17.06.2021

It is sad to see such an esteemed paper as the times providing further unbalanced reporting. Today’s article on the cost of children’s residential care fails, yet again, to offer the local authority figures for council run, similar provisions. According to the Unit Costs of Health and Social Care[1], published annually, local authority homes cost, on average over £800 per week more per child. This is well known within the sector, and we ask why, therefore, some local authorities continue to support this rhetoric and hysteria aimed at private provision.

So why does all children’s residential care cost so much more than the comparisons cited by The Times?

The average size of a children’s home is just over 3(3.4) beds. Within that average, are many dual and solo provisions. Each child in these smaller homes may have one or two staff on duty, both day and night, to meet their complex needs. Besides that, there will also be a manager, and usually a Responsible Individual overseeing him or her. The cost of staff alone in an average 2 bedded home is £3-4,000 per week. In contrast, an elderly care home may have up to 30 residents with 1 staff between many, and generally one home manager. Economy of scale reduces cost.

The Time’s further piece on safeguarding highlights serious problems in specific provisions but yet again, fails to offer the balance that similar events happen in local authority provisions.

The ICHA do not believe that any child should have to experience these things but thank God that we have an inspection regime that enables such shortcomings to be identified and addressed across the whole sector.

The current hysteria helps no one, least of all our children. They are vulnerable and deserve the best help and assistance. If this is to be delivered in homely environments with sufficient well-trained staff, then we have to accept that this will not be cheap. The current Care Review and CMA investigations offer a chance to do a proper job of examining the care sector objectively, and we welcome both.


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