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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has unveiled government proposals to ban unregulated care homes for children under the age of 16, as well as introducing new minimum quality standards for unregulated provision used to house over 16s.
Under the proposed new plans, councils will be banned from using placements which offer accommodation but not care for children under the age of 16. The move follows growing concerns over the use of unregulated accommodation for younger children as councils struggle with often extreme shortages of suitable provisions.
Currently more than 6,000 young people are in unregulated placements, a rapid increase from 4,200 in 2016, with 100 of those being under the age of 16. There are reports of children being placed in Airbnbs and in caravans. Police have warned that the increasing numbers of unregulated placements are fuelling criminal activity and exploitation by county lines gangs.
Gavin Williamson said: “There are no circumstances where a child under 16 should be placed in accommodation that does not keep them safe. That is unacceptable and I am taking urgent action to end this practice and drive up the quality of care provided to all vulnerable children.”
Sources: TheGuardian.com, 12 February 2020, ‘Ministers propose ban on unregulated care homes for children’. Communitycare.co.uk, 12 February 2020, ‘DfE proposes banning unregulated placements for children under 16’.