April 8, 2024

Ofsted’s delays in processing applications and the impact on Supported Accommodation providers

Ofsted’s inspections of providers who provide supported accommodation to looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17 years old were due to start in April 2024. However, inspections have now been pushed back to start in September 2024 instead.

Ofsted said that the extra period will give providers more time to digest Ofsted’s inspection guidance titled, ‘Social Care Common Inspection Framework (SCCIF): supported accommodation for looked after children and care leavers ages 16 and 17’. Ofsted also said that the delay would enable it to prioritise dealing with the large volume of registration applications, including many from providers that are already accommodating children and care leavers.

What impact is the delay having on providers?

Existing providers

Ofsted began accepting registration applications from providers in April 2023 and providers were required to submit their applications by 28 October 2023. We are now almost six months on from that date and a large number of providers are still waiting to be registered. This is having a detrimental impact on providers, Local Authorities and vulnerable children who are in desperate need of supported accommodation placements.

We recently acted for a provider who had been providing supported accommodation to children and care leavers for a number of years. This provider submitted their registration application to Ofsted in early October 2023 in advance of the registration deadline. However, in late March 2024, they were still waiting for registration to be granted and their Unique Reference Number (“URN”) to be issued.

Local Authorities expressed their wish to place children with our client once Ofsted had issued their URN. However, Ofsted’s delays meant that these placements could not happen which in turn led to a loss in revenue and threatened viability of my client’s business. We raised these issues with Ofsted and achieved a positive result for our client.

New providers

We spoke with another provider about their concerns in relation to Ofsted’s backlog in processing applications. This provider was new to the supported accommodation sector and submitted their registration application to Ofsted in February 2024. The provider had incurred significant costs in relation to setting up a new business and said that if they had known in advance how long the registration process was likely to take, they would have been better able to plan their resources.

Although Ofsted acknowledged that there were delays in processing registration applications (in a press release published on 29 February 2024), it has still not provided any reassurance to providers in relation to how it is addressing demands and the current timescales for registration applications to be processed.

With such uncertainty around the delays, providers will want to approach new supported accommodation registrations with caution.

Additional resources

RWK Goodman work closely with the National Association of Supported Accommodation Providers (NASAP), a membership body representing providers of supported accommodation across England and Wales.  We also work closely with dialogue, an organisation at the heart of helping supported accommodation providers to set up and maintain excellent services. Providers are encouraged to contact these organisations if they need any support and guidance in relation to their supported accommodation service.

How can we help?

If you are a provider of supported accommodation who is experiencing issues with Ofsted registration, our lawyers at RWK Goodman can assist with this.

Call us:

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