The government will pilot the regional commissioning of placements for looked-after children from September, Community Care LIVE delegates were told yesterday.
Ben Arora, head of commissioning and market management at the Department for Education and Skills, unveiled the plans in a DfES-led session on commissioning children’s services.
The pilots will be funded for this financial year and then a decision will be taken about further funding. The DfES has received bids to be a pilot from every region in the country and the winning ones will be notified this month, Arora said.
Pilots of regional commissioning units, to commission services on behalf of local authorities, were promised in last autumn’s Care Matters green paper.
It claimed they could improve placement choice for looked-after children and value for money by combining councils’ buying power to increase their leverage over providers.
While regional commissioning pilots were generally backed in the green paper consultation, some respondents raised concerns that such units would be used purely to drive down costs rather than raise quality.
Arora also revealed that joint DfES and Department of Health guidance on pooled budgets for children’s services would be published shortly, as would a DfES strategy on the third sector.
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