£30m boost for adoption services
The Government has committed £30 million to finding adoptive parents for children in care.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne want to speed up the process of finding new homes for the 3,000 children waiting for adoption, half of whom spend more than 18 months in care.
Mr Osborne said: "We cannot sit by when so many children are waiting so long to find a stable, loving home, particularly when there are parents out there who want to adopt. It just isn't good enough.
"So I want to do all I can to make sure that there are as few barriers as humanly possible between children in care and their new parents."
The announcement in this week's summer Budget will cover the £27,000 fee usually incurred by authorities to find an adoptive parent outside of their geographical borders.
The fee covers the cost of finding, assessing and matching an adoptive parent and child. Adoptive parents are either found by another local authority or by a voluntary sector adoption agency.
The new fund could pay for more than a third of children currently in care to find a home elsewhere.
Ministers said the current system stops local authorities from looking far and wide for potential parents, particularly for harder-to-place children who are least likely to find a home.
Mr Osborne said: "It shouldn't matter where those families might live. This funding will cover the fees that local authorities have to pay when families are found from other areas, and I hope will mean many more children are adopted more quickly."
The Government's new Education and Adoption Bill will also include new powers to make local authorities either merge or outsource services to single regional agencies if they fail to do so within two years.
Mr Cameron said: "I am determined to tear down the barriers to children in care being found loving adoptive parents. The average time it takes to place a child with a new family has been falling and I am delighted we are able to offer this funding to try to ensure it falls further."
The Government said that since 2010 the number of children adopted increased from 3,200 to 5,050 by 2013/14. The average time it took to place a child with adoptive parents fell from an average of 656 days in 2012/13 to 533 days in 2013/14.