1.Details of the lowest, highest and average weekly rates agreed with and charged by external suppliers of independent registered children’s residential care services for the current year (2018/2019).
We hold this information but as we believe that disclosure may prejudice our commercial interests we consider it to be exempt under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 section 43(2) Commercial Confidentiality. This is a qualified exemption meaning we undertake both a prejudice test and a public interest test.
The prejudice test means that we must satisfy ourselves that disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice or harm the commercial interests of the council.We work with third parties who provide services directly to us, including the supply of placement services. To protect public finances we work hard to increase value for money for all services purchased. We do this using various ways, one of which is through direct negotiation with providers. The market is made up of providers from all over the country and there are various costs in the market. Costs are undisclosed by us and by the providers themselves to other providers as this would reduce competition with a risk of all providers moving their prices to the highest costs should this information be released in to the public domain.
There is a public interest in being open and transparent and to encourage providers to participate in the market. However, there is also a public interest in allowing public authorities to not disclose information which, if disclosed, would reduce its ability to negotiate or compete in a commercial environment. On balance we consider the latter to outweigh the former and are applying the exemption.
2. Percentage increase in weekly rates charged by independent children’s residential care providers which were awarded, compared to the previous year’s levels.
Please see the answer to the previous question.
3. The number of looked after children in residential care as at 31 March 2018 and of those children, the percentage looked after by independent residential care providers.
We have identified 124 Looked After Children under the Department for Education reporting code ” Private or Voluntary Provision”, there is no code for “independent residential care providers”.
This figure is based on our SSDA903 statutory return dated March 31st 2018.