Children’s services markets can be “distorted” by councils’ dual role as commissioners and providers of services, according to a government-backed report published today.
The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills following changes brought in by 2003’s Every Child Matters green paper, said there was “evidence that there is not a level playing field” in the children’s services market.
Some private providers believed councils perceived the cost of external services to be higher than in-house provision.
PWC criticised poor local authority commissioning practice and said some council commissioners did not have a “strong sense of what their vision for their local market could or should be”.
The Overarching Report on Children’s Services Markets suggested the DfES should encourage regional markets because local markets were sometimes too small and lacked effective competition.
And it criticised the targeted and time-limited nature of some government funding, particularly for parent and family support services, saying this made strategic planning difficult.