Government blocks measures to vet those employed by direct payments

The government has resisted attempts to provide more protection for direct payment users under the proposed vetting and barring scheme for people working with vulnerable adults.

An amendment to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill would have classed direct payment users as “regulated activity providers”, forcing them to check prospective employees against the list of barred people.

But government spokesperson Baroness Royall last week blocked the amendment, saying the purpose of direct payments was to put people in control of the care they received, so they should decide whether or not to check the list.

Some service user organisations had argued that the amendment would have undermined the independence of people using direct payments, but charities had claimed unsuitable people might “gravitate” towards working for direct payment recipients if they knew they were unlikely to be checked (news analysis, page 18, 27 April).

Another amendment, tabled during House of Lords scrutiny of the bill, would have forced people commissioning regulated activities for the benefit of vulnerable adults to check the barred list.

But Royall said checks in these circumstances would be “intrusive”.

The government has, however, moved to address concerns about the inclusion of children on the barred lists.

Lord Adonis said people aged under 18 when they committed an offence causing them to be placed on the list would not be included automatically.

Instead, he said they would be dealt with under a “discretionary route, with the right to make representations”.

The commitment came after Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Walmsley had used the example of a young person aged 17 involved in a mutual but illegal sexual relationship with a 15 year old.

She said they “may not present a risk of harm to children in general” and it might not be appropriate to automatically bar them from work with children.

However, Adonis blocked an attempt by Walmsley to give people included on the list as children an automatic right to have their status reviewed when they reached the age of 18.


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