Ban on under-16s placed in unregulated accommodation

New plans announced by the government will mean that putting children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation will become illegal.

Proposals to stop children in care from being placed in inappropriate accommodation will be published as part of a consultation, tackling growing concerns about the number of under-16s being left at risk of exploitation.

The Education Secretary said that minimum standards will also be introduced for unregulated accommodation, which provides accommodation but not care, to improve the quality and security of the placements. This will mean that where this is used appropriately for young people aged 16 and over, safety and quality is prioritised.

The consultation also proposes new legal powers for Ofsted to crack down on illegal unregistered providers and new measures requiring councils and local police forces to work together before placements in unregulated settings are made out of area, putting the interests of young people at the heart of decisions.

Currently, more than 6,000 looked-after children and young people in England are living in unregulated accommodation, with up to 100 under 16s living in unregulated provision at any one time.

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. Social workers and council chiefs have to make difficult decisions about the children in their care, so it’s important that we agree an ambitious approach to these important reforms to bring about lasting change in children’s social care.”