Charities, the private sector and politicians have united in
condemning the Criminal Records Bureau’s decision to more than
double the charge for police checks on social care staff from
The increase will put added financial pressure on social care
employers. Many will have to foot the bill themselves rather than
pass it onto employees or customers. The fee for enhanced
disclosures will rise from £13 to £29 and standard ones
from £12 to £24.
Care provider Bupa estimated it would have to find an extra
£300,000 a year; the National Council of Voluntary Child Care
Organisations (NCVCCO) warned that services could be cut; and the
Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said the new fees could
force some providers to close.
All complained about the short notice of the decision and the lack
of consultation over it, but felt particularly aggrieved that an
organisation which had missed seven of its eight performance
targets and provided a poor level of service could do this.
“There is no justification for any increase in fees by an agency
which has made such a pig’s ear of it,” said RNHA chief executive
Frank Ursell. He complained that 125 applications to the bureau
made by his members were still outstanding 12 months later.
Erica De’Ath, chief executive of the NCVCCO, said the budgets of
voluntary organisations had already been set and contracts with
local authorities agreed.
She said: “It is unlikely organisations will be able to go back to
councils – the money will have to come from somewhere else.”
However, a Bupa spokesperson said the care homes sector would be
forced to “look to councils to pay a realistic price for care” as a
Liberal Democrats social affairs spokesperson Paul Burstow said the
situation had arisen because of “disastrous planning, bad decisions
and hopeless implementation” and called for the bureau’s senior
management to be sacked.
But its managing director, John O’Brien, said the increases were
needed because “after a year’s operation, the current charge is not
the operational cost”.
The Department of Health, the Department for Education and Skills
and the Home Office will also provide £19m funding for 2003-4.
After processing half of enhanced checks and four out of five
standard disclosures late last year, the bureau has watered down
its targets to 90 per cent of enhanced disclosures returned within
four weeks, and 90 per cent of standard ones within two weeks.