Resources and Commissioning

Pan London Placements Commissioning Programme (PLPCP)

The Pan-London Placements Commissioning Programme has developed stronger collaborative arrangements for commissioning across London, with key recent developments including Pan-London Sufficiency Strategy Analysis with The Rees Centre, Oxford University; Pan-London snapshot and analysis of high-cost low-incidence placements for children; and analysis with recommendations for improving outcomes and reducing costs of residential parenting assessments.

London authorities are facing an unsustainable financial risk as expenditure on provision for children with high needs grows both in SEND and social care, due to growing demand and increasing provider fees. There is a lack of suitable local provision, with many children as a result being placed at considerable distance and there is no secure provision in London. In response to this shortfall of provision and the associated financial risk, London Councils are managing a programme of work, including research to understand the key factors causing this growth and to identify potential solutions.

The report ‘Under pressure: an exploration of demand and spending in children’s social care and for children with special educational needs in London’ (2019) produced by ISOS Partnership deepens understanding and sets out key recommendations. These recommendations include several with a theme of strengthening the partnership arrangements for pan-London and sub-regional commissioning.

Read our 2021/22 Programme Plan by clicking the below image. 

London Sufficiency

The Pan-London Placement Commissioning Programme is taking forward a range of projects to improve placement sufficiency, quality and value for money for London local authorities in order to improve outcomes for London children.

As part of this programme, the Commissioning Alliance has managed a pan-London data collection and analysis of complex adolescents.

You can explore the London Sufficiency Tool commissioned by the LIIA and developed by the Commissioning Alliance, by clicking on the image below.

Research Findings

The research shows that children’s services across London are facing an unsustainable level of financial risk. In 2017/18 all but one council in London were in deficit on their high-needs expenditure and all but six were in deficit on their children’s social care expenditure. Given the significant budgetary pressures facing Children’s Services, London Councils is concerned that future performance in this vitally important service area will be put at risk. This isn’t a London-specific issue, but the numbers are stark: across all 33 London local authorities the total in-year shortfall in funding across both Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and children’s social care came to £185 million in 2017/18. This shortfall is driven both by flatlining budgets and increased demand.

In SEND there has been a dramatic and sustained rise in demand for support, brought about by the very rapid increase in children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (31 per cent over four years). In children’s social care, the overspend stands at 9 per cent in 2017/18, or £108 million. Increased complexity of need, workforce dynamics and competition within the market for places are leading to rapidly rising individual costs of care.

It found a number of factors explaining rising expenditure, including system level changes, the funding and policy landscape, demographic changes and the marketplace for providers and professionals.


The research makes it crystal clear that urgent action is needed to address the sustainability of funding for children’s social care and SEND – and that must include early intervention.

The research puts forward recommendations for local authorities and central government aimed at addressing the system level changes and broader funding and policy landscape that have led to an increased spend.

ALDCS is working with local authorities collaboratively to address the recommendations that are specific to LA responsibilities for addressing the financial pressures. The thematic work priority workstreams on SEND, adolescent safeguarding and workforce are responding to the recommendations of the Isos report. In addition specific attention is being given to the commissioning arrangements for high cost placements and new approaches to reducing reliance upon interim social workers.