The biggest independent providers of children’s care in England made profits of more than £300m last year, as concern mounts over the conditions that some children are being placed in and the spiralling costs for councils.
Fee income for the 20 largest operators of independent children’s care totalled £1.63bn last year, a 6.5% increase on the previous year. And 19% of that – £310m – was recorded as profit, according to an independent analysis. Half of the top 20 providers have some private equity or sovereign wealth fund ownership.
Council spending on independent children’s care in England has more than doubled in six years. In 2021-22, spending on independently run residential care for vulnerable children increased by 11% on the previous year.
This comes with the number of children in care at its highest level since before the pandemic: 82,170 in England. There are also concerns among councils over the indebtedness of some of the main providers.