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Statement on BBC Newsnight’s report into public spending on care homes

In its latest report on “Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes,” BBC Newsnight investigated public spending on accommodation used to house vulnerable teenagers, exposing how the quality of care is falling short of what citizens expect. The investigation illustrates the devastating and costly consequences of opaque public contracting with private companies for essential public services.  

“Young, vulnerable people deserve the best quality of care. Government, councils, and citizens need to be able to monitor if public monies are put to good use and act before things go wrong rather than picking up the pieces when harm is done. Better open data is essential for due diligence and will help governments make better spending and procurement decisions for the public purse.” says Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership.

While the UK publishes some public contracting data through Contracts Finder, much needs to be done to make this data more open, accurate, timely, and complete. This will to facilitate investigations into vital social issues such as social care for children in ‘supported accommodation.’ Important information, such as bid prices and data on implementation is not available. 

BBC Newsnight’s investigation used public contracting data analyzed by the Open Contracting Partnership and Spend Network.

Read more on the widening gap in the transparency of how public services are procured and delivered in the UK.

In our report Mythbusting Commercial Confidentiality in Public Procurement, we talked to over 70 experts from 20 countries to find very little evidence that supports keeping contracting information secret.

Alongside other civil society organizations, we published a joint letter in which we call on the UK government to take urgent action to address the lack of data and overhaul its use.


About the Open Contracting Partnership

The Open Contracting Partnership is a silo-busting collaboration across governments, businesses, civil society, and technologists to open up and transform government contracting worldwide. We bring open data and open government together to make public contracting fair and effective. Spun out of the World Bank in 2015, we are now an independent not-for-profit working in over 30 countries around the world. We help make reforms stick and innovations jump scale, and foster a culture of openness about the policies, teams, tools, data, and results needed to deliver impact.

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