Social services for vulnerable children in England to be privatised
Serco may be among firms bidding for contracts as Labour show concern over removal of checks that safeguard standards
The government is planning to allow outsourcing firms to bid for contracts to manage social services for vulnerable children in England – while dropping laws allowing the removal of companies that fail to do the job properly.
A number of firms have expressed an interest in proposals that would allow them to bid for contracts managing foster care and providing other services for children in care.
But Labour says the plans would take away legal provisions that allow councils to remove a firm that has failed to meet national minimum standards. They would also relax the rules governing independent inspections of services that place and monitor children who are looked after by the state.
Concerns have emerged after two of the biggest outsourcing companies in Britain, Serco and G4S, were found to have overbilled the taxpayer by charging to tag offenders who were dead or in prison.
Lisa Nandy, the shadow children’s minister, said the latest plans would leave some of Britain’s most vulnerable children at the mercy of an unregulated private sector. She has written to the regulatory reform committee, which is considering a draft legislative reform order, urging it to reject the government’s plans.
“For the government to consider outsourcing a sensitive service such as foster care to the private sector, when we have just seen with G4S and Serco how a profit motive can have disastrous consequences for the public purse, is madness. The proposals remove many of the checks and balances required to ensure the safety of children whilst introducing the unchecked unpredictability of the market. They should withdraw these proposals now and think again,” she said.
Source: Guardian Online