Watchdog warning on vetting failings

Recruitment and retention problems in social care are increasing risks to vulnerable people, according to the chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Denise Platt, launching CSCI’s first annual State of Social Care in England report, said organisations were failing to carry out proper checks on new employees because they were under so much pressure to fill vacant posts.

“It’s not to do with costs, it’s more to do with urgency,” she added.

John Coughlan, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said there should be a “zero tolerance” attitude on recruitment checks.

But he said it was important to distinguish between those organisations failing to carry out checks and those that did but did not keep proper personnel records.

CSCI’s overall judgment of the sector is that services only serve some people well and their future is uncertain.

Although services are making the most of limited resources, they are “struggling to meet people’s needs” and there is a very high threshold for people to access them.

The report also claims charity-run services perform better than those managed by councils or private providers. But Coughlan said charities were often contracted to provide services that were “relatively easy” while councils retained the “heavy intervention” services such as child protection.

The report says councils should engage more with local economic development experts to build markets for care.

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