Children’s Services Market Report


The latest update of LaingBuisson’s comprehensive study into children’s services. Third edition. Published 21 November 2017. (269pp) NB Digital files only


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“While the number of children in care has been growing in recent years, focus within the sector has intensified on the quality of children’s care experience, the outcomes for children in care, and their ‘life chances’ when they leave care, and particularly whether quality of care and care outcomes are improving or getting worse. In many cases the differences in outcomes for children placed in care and their peers is stark..
Philip Blackburn – Report author


Spending constraints and increased demand lead to new ways of working in children’s services

The children’s services market in the UK is estimated to be worth £14.1 billion, 70% being accounted by children and young people’s social care services and the remaining 30% by special education services.

However, in a market which is heavily reliant on state funding, while demand for services has grown, spending on children’s services has contracted in real terms in recent years owing to the period of fiscal austerity under the Coalition government.

There was some marginal real growth in the market in 2015/16 in a year of low inflation, though further fiscal austerity looms unless current political uncertainty triggers a change a direction.

At the same time, children and young people’s services unsurprisingly remain a high priority for local authorities and with the ongoing need for cost savings they are looking for ways of commissioning which deliver value for money and improve outcomes for children and young people. This includes contracting at ‘scale and with scope’ with providers where price discounts and joined up consistent service propositions can deliver savings and high quality.

The children’s care and special education sector is diverse with many areas having their own dynamic drivers, offering opportunities and challenges from year to year. Many large and medium sized providers have developed diverse services to meet these drivers, and are now well placed to meet significant structural changes in the commissioning landscape as the twin need for value and quality gains momentum.


What the report covers

  • Market structures of:
    – Special education
    – Foster care
    – Adoption
    – Residential care
    – Leaving care support
    – Safeguarding
  • Growth and consolidation trends
  • Spending and policy issues
  • Politics and regulation
  • Major provider profiles
  • Market and quality tables
  • Private equity involvement
  • Financial Appendix

What You Get

      • Digital package – Multi-user Digital PDF and Microsoft Excel files


LaingBuisson is the chosen provider of independent sector healthcare market data to the UK government’s Office for National Statistics.

Additional information

Report Format

Multi-user Digital PDF + Printed Hard Copy, Single-user Printed Hard Copy