Bedford Borough Council HQ Image:Bedford Borough Council

New legal powers to crack down on illegal unregistered providers

Bedford Borough Council has welcomed the government’s announcement for proposals to stop children in care being placed in unregulated accommodation.

There have been growing concerns about children under the age of 16 placed in unregulated accommodation and being left at risk. The number of children in care aged 16 or 17 placed in unregulated settings has increased from 2,900 in 2009 to 6,100 in 2019

Under new proposals, the government would introduce national standards for unregulated accommodation to improve the quality and security of the placements. Ofsted would also be allowed new legal powers to crack down on illegal unregistered providers.

Other proposals include:

  • Banning using this provision for under 16s
  • Introducing national quality standards
  • Ensuring independent reviewing officers represent young people’s interests
  • Requiring local authorities and policy forces to cooperate with each other

These proposals are being published as part of a consultation.  

Cllr James Valentine, portfolio holder for Children’s Services and Education, said:

“Bedford Borough Council welcome this consultation and will be responding. Many Local Authorities share our concerns and this subject was raised in parliament by Bedford MP Mohammad Yasin pressing the Minister for action.

“The Council fully supports the All Party Parliamentary Group recommendations to tackle this and bring better regulation to this area and has called on the Government to urgently implement and fully fund these recommendations.”

Last year, the Council met with The Children’s Society to look at unregulated care homes and the impact they have on children.

Mark Russell, chief executive at The Children’s Society, said:

“The numbers of children being placed in unregulated accommodation is on the rise, making this consultation both timely and essential. We are pleased the government is looking carefully at this issue and recognising the wider issues at play, such as the shortage of places where they’re most needed.

“Children are often placed in these settings in an emergency and out of their home area, where they may not get the support they need and can be at particular risk of going missing and being criminally or sexually exploited.

“All accommodation for children in care has to be suitable for their needs and no child should be placed in accommodation where they are not safe. It’s vital that quality standards are introduced across the board. This consultation should lead to tangible changes which address these issues and ensure all children get the help they deserve.”

The consultation closes at 10:30pm on 8 April 2020.