The ministers called for the largest private providers of children’s homes to be subject to a windfall tax

A landmark independent review of child social care today calls for a “radical reset” of the crisis-hit system

A major new report called for an overhaul of the childcare system (file photo)
A major new report called for an overhaul of the childcare system (file photo)

Leading private childcare providers should be hit with an unexpected tax to overhaul the crisis-hit system, a landmark report recommends today.

The independent review of children’s social care has called for a “radical reset” of the system as it warned that 100,000 vulnerable young people will be cared for by 2032, at a cost of £15billion a year.

The report calls for restructuring to reduce the number of children in the system by strengthening kinship and family centers and employing skilled social workers to ensure children’s safety.

It comes this week before separate briefings on the tragic deaths of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother Emma Tustin, and year-old Star Hobson, who was killed by her mother’s partner, Savannah Brockhill.

Josh MacAlister, chair of the independent review, said: “There are too many stories of lives lived in isolation, unfulfilled or abandoned.

“The time for half measures, optimizations or quick solutions is over. A fundamental realignment is now needed, and the review has produced a plan to do just that.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died after being mistreated for months



The murdered toddler Star Hobson



“Change is now both morally urgent and financially inevitable.”

The review warned of the need to break the “cycle of escalating distress and crisis intervention” with more than 80 recommendations for sweeping reforms.

Care for vulnerable youth should not be based on profit, and providers who have made “abnormally large” profits from the current system’s malfunction should help fix it, it said.

An unexpected tax on 20% of the profits of the largest private children’s homes and independent care providers could raise millions of pounds to change the system, the report says.

Local authorities should set up regional care cooperatives to encourage public sector support and ensure that more children are placed close to family and friends when it is best for them.

The report said facilities for young offenders should be phased out over the next decade and called for care leavers to become a protected characteristic to eradicate discrimination.

It called on ministers to look at factors pushing youngsters into care, such as child poverty rates, and warned that without broader action, reforms “run the risk of treating the symptoms rather than the root cause”.

The review calls for investment of around £2.6 billion over the next four years to fund reforms that could see 30,000 more children safely living with their families by 2032.

The government said it would set up a national implementation body to oversee the changes and promised to hire more foster parents, improve opportunities for social workers and give money to councils to help vulnerable children stay involved in education.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi


Photo only/PA images)

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi welcomed the findings and said they would be taken into account in the coming months.

He said: “This is the beginning of a journey to change the culture and dramatically reform the child welfare system.

“Everything we do to improve outcomes for children and families must be backed by evidence.

“This report will be central to advancing our quest to ensure every child has a loving and stable home, and we will continue to work with experts and people who have experienced caring to bring about change on the ground.”

Helen Hayes, Minister for Shadow Children, said: “The poor outcomes children are experiencing in institutions should be a source of shame for our country and our government.

“A decade of conservative governments has taken away the early support services that children and families rely on that can keep children safe at home and prevent increasing numbers of children being placed in care, as we are now seeing and will continue to do .

“Government has an opportunity to change that pattern, to give families back the support and services they need and Labor would support them in doing so.”

In a joint statement, the National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC, Action for Children, Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society said: “Such an opportunity must be accompanied by an urgent government action plan to implement the reforms and a commitment to ambitious, long-term long-term investment.

“The voices of children and young people must also be heard loud and clear in this process.

“This is our chance to build a future where every child feels safe, secure and supported, and it is important that we embrace them all and put the needs of vulnerable children and young people at the heart of our national history.”

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