The Labour government’s award of a private contract to improve children’s homes did not offer value for money, children’s minister Tim Loughton has stated.
Speaking exclusively to Community Care, Loughton revealed why he decided not to go ahead with the controversial decision by the former government to give a contract to “support and challenge” children’s homes to the private company Tribal Group. The work, worth £300,000, had previously been carried out by the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care.
“I didn’t think the case for it going outside the department had been made and I didn’t think the value for money criteria had been met. It wasn’t a question of who gets the contract, it was a question of should there be a contract at all or should we be doing it ourselves.”
Loughton added that he was surprised there “wasn’t more of a contribution by the private sector wanting to contribute towards best practice”, when the “majority of children’s homes are run commercially”.
“If you’re working for a private supermarket you don’t go and ask the government for money in order to improve the service you are offering to your shoppers. On the same basis, I had to ask why public money was being placed to promote largely private businesses. We have a great deal of expertise within the DfE around looked-after children and residential care.”
“We’re not going back to the drawing board. We’re using everything we’ve learned before. The quality of the people who are involved and the quality of the research we’ll be doing is certainly no less than what we would have got outside.”
He said a progress report would be published later this year.
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