A LACK of capacity is meaning vulnerable kids in England are being put into foster care and children’s homes in Scotland, a new report has revealed.

An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into social care in the UK found that stakeholders are raising concerns about the practice.

They warned that young people are facing disruption at school after being placed into different legal and educational systems – all due to a lack of spaces near their home area.

It could mean some kids from as far away as London are being placed into care in Scotland.

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The investigation also revealed difficulties in Scotland placing children with disabilities or complex needs.

And it found Scottish children in the care system were more likely to be separated from their siblings than their counterparts in England.

The CMA reported that in England in 2019/20, 1400 (13% of all siblings in care) siblings were not placed according to their plan.

In Scotland, there were 200 sibling groups separated after being placed into foster care - more than 20% of all sibling groups in foster care.

The report, the interim update from a market study the CMA launched in March, said: “We were told there is a general shortage of foster carers and particularly so for children with more complex needs, such as complex disabilities or older children with risk factors, and for family groups.

"Fewer concerns were raised around the overall capacity of residential care, but shortages were reported for residential care for children with disabilities and for children with mental health issues.”

The report continued: “Stakeholders report concerns about children being placed across national borders, particularly placements from England into Scotland where children may be very far from home and in a different legal and educational system.

"While there can be legitimate reasons why it would be in a child’s best interests to be placed out of area (eg to separate them from negative influences), we have been told that it is lack of suitable places available within a reasonable distance that is driving the out-of-area placement of children in many cases.

"Children moved away from their home area may suffer loneliness and isolation at being separated from their support networks, have their schooling disrupted and may experience difficulty in accessing social services.”

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Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “We are concerned this is a failing system, with children not being placed in the right homes.

“Vulnerable children rely on these services, but too many are being placed in accommodation that does not meet their needs.

“We are now considering ways to tackle these issues, including recommendations to the UK and devolved governments, and are inviting comments on these.

"Our priority remains to identify the best ways to ensure children can get the right care.”