A study into the increasing costs in children’s social care provision and lack of appropriate placements has been launched by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
CMA has pledged to 'lift the lid' on concerns around the high prices paid by local authorities and will launch a full investigation into the market if necessary.
It will examine the supply of placements, the prices charged by providers, the way commissioning of places is carried out and the environment for investing in the system.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: 'We are concerned that some children are not getting access to the right placements due to a lack of availability in the system, and that rising prices are putting further pressure on stretched local authority budgets.
'The CMA is in a unique position to use its powers to look into this. But children’s care is not a market like any other - our clear and overriding priority will be about identifying ways children can get better care. This will include examining the concerns raised about the role of private sector providers, which has grown in the last few years, as well as the role of public and third sector providers.'
The investigation follows research by the Local Government Association (LGA) that found the six biggest independent providers of children’s residential and fostering placements made £219m in profit last year.