Lib Dems strive to toughen up bill and protect direct payment users

Liberal Democrat peers are leading efforts to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable adults under the vetting and barring scheme to be set up through the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill.

Amendments tabled by Baroness Walmsley and Baroness Sharp would require direct payment users to check people they plan to employ against the list of barred people.

The peers also want tougher duties on organisations providing recreational, sports, social and educational activities for vulnerable adults. An amendment would cancel these organisations’ current exemption from making checks against the list.

Charities Voice UK, Ann Craft Trust and Respond are concerned that the vetting scheme could put direct payment users at risk because users are not classed as regulated activity providers and so would not need to check prospective employees against the list (Charities alarmed at vetting loophole, 9 March).

Rebecca Seden, policy and campaigns officer for the three charities, said unsuitable people might “gravitate towards providing services under direct payments” if they knew they were unlikely to be checked.

Mandatory checks for organisations that provide recreational, social, sporting or educational activities for vulnerable adults would bring them in line with those providing similar services for children, she added.

Another amendment from the peers says self-employed people working in domiciliary care should have to provide checks on their own status to prospective employers.

They also propose closer links between the two planned lists, one of which will cover people barred from working with children and the other those barred from work with vulnerable adults.

An amendment says a person included on either list must be considered by the independent barring board for inclusion on the other list.

And the peers have also proposed that the board, which will decide whether or not to include people on the barring lists, should not be able to include under-18s on either list.

They have also addressed concerns about vague wording in the bill with an amendment that seeks to define harm more clearly. This would mean that harm would cover situations when children had seen others subject to ill-treatment, as well as direct abuse.

The amendments will be discussed when the bill enters its committee stage.

It received its second reading in the House of Lords before Easter (Vetting costs to be less than forecast, 6 April).


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