The idea

The Care Bank is a new national public body with a duty to every child on a care order. With funding directly from the Treasury, it pays for all placements including adoption, fostering, residential and the costs of kinship care. It does NOT influence decisions about placements, but frees local authorities to work with each child to make the decision that is best for them without reference to the cost. 

Each provider of care has one business relationship - with the Care Bank - and must work with open book accounts. The Care Bank can monitor providers for their sustainability, profit margins and investment in decent pay for the workforce. It has regulatory power over mergers and acquisitions. 

The Care Bank has a strategic role in foresight planning and commissioning of the types of care difficult to commission locally - specialised care and/or care needed by a relatively small number of children. 

Local authorities retain their corporate parent duties and their power to commission care that is needed locally, empowered by the certainty that the Care Bank will pay for all necessary places.

Government’s response to the public procurement consultation indicates that services such as social care may be exempted from competition in new procurement regulations. We believe that the care system should be one of those exempt sectors, and that the Care Bank would provide a robust alternative procurement framework. 

The impact we hope this will achieve

The Care Bank will rebalance power - away from providers and towards children and their local authority corporate parents. 

- Children, alongside their social worker and prospective carer (as well as their parent where appropriate) can choose the care they feel is right for them, without being influenced by the cost. 

- With the right placement decision made first time, fewer placements will fail and fewer children will need to be moved to different homes. 

- Care Bank Funds follow the child, and the child’s own evaluation of their placement will be the trigger for continued payments, putting the child’s experience of care at the heart of all decisions. 

- Social workers can feel confident putting the child’s needs first and there need be no hierarchy of placements due to availability or price.

- The Care Bank will simplify procurement, making it more transparent and less costly, and ensuring provider finances are fair and sustainable.

- It will enable decision-makers to build a clearer picture of need and provision, and plan strategically for the future, meaning children are less likely to experience out-of-area placements or inappropriate types of care. 

- Local authorities can focus resources on family help and other types of social care children need.

- For an illustrated summary of the main elements and impacts of the Care Bank, click here.

- For a full explanation of the Care Bank and the need for such reform, click here.