We have been closely following the announcements and updates relating to Ofsted’s regulation of supported accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds. Earlier, this year we wrote a blog about the regime and recently contributed an article to the August/September edition of Care Markets focussing on the Quality Standards providers will need to follow.

Inspection

Ofsted will begin pilot inspections of supported accommodation with specially trained staff later this year to develop their approach and guidance ahead of inspections beginning nationally from April 2024. Ofsted has launched its consultation on the arrangements for inspections. The consultation recommends three outcomes from an inspection: Where improvements are needed, leaders and managers take timely and effective action; Leaders and managers must make improvements; and Leaders and managers must take urgent action to address failings. Ofsted has said: “As this is a newly regulated sector that does not yet have an established benchmark for excellence, there is no outcome that identifies exceptional practice”.

Providers will be required to complete a review of the support they are offering young people every six months. This must include the views and experiences of young people living in the accommodation. The reviews will be submitted to Ofsted, who will complete inspections at least every three years.

Enforcement

Ofsted has published its interim enforcement policy. Ofsted state in this policy, it will use its enforcement powers to:

  • reduce the risk of harm to children who use regulated social care provision
  • enforce compliance with the law
  • improve the quality of services

Ofsted will have a range of enforcement powers against providers and service managers that will be familiar to those currently operating registered services. Ofsted can choose to take action including, refusing registration, imposing or varying conditions of registration, making a recommendation or requirement after a monitoring visit, serving compliance notices, suspending a registration, restricting accommodation and cancelling a registration. Ofsted can also bring a prosecution if it considers a criminal offence is or has been committed. It is clear that Ofsted can take action against existing providers who do not submit a completed application for registration by 27 October 2023.

Those operating supported accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds will need to ensure they meet the October registration deadline and understand their obligations under the new regime, and in particular the requirements under the Quality Standards. Providers should also make sure the service has systems for monitoring and auditing the support provided to young people and that there are effective processes for managing complaints and concerns. Being able to evidence that these arrangements are in place will be essential throughout the registration process and as Ofsted begins inspections.

For more information and advice about the scope of the new regime, please contact the Anthony Collins regulatory team.