The United Kingdom Homecare Association has urged the Home Office to waive the £64 one-off fee for home care staff to join the vetting and barring scheme, saying the sector will not be able to bear the burden.
In a letter to Home Office minister Meg Hillier, UKHCA chair Mike Padgham said local authorities were unlikely to cover the costs of meeting the fee, which employers are expected to pay, in their contracts with home care providers. This could mean the burden will pass to home care staff themselves at a time when those in England will face an annual registration fee to join the General Social Care Council register, worsening the sector’s already tough recruitment and retention environment.
From 2009-2014, the existing 280,000 home care staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority’s scheme to check their suitability to work with vulnerable adults, at a one-off cost of £64 (£58 in Northern Ireland).
This is an increase on the current requirement to have an enhanced disclosure Criminal Records Bureau check, which costs £36.
And the GSCC is likely to open its social care register to domiciliary care workers in England later this year, with an annual fee of £20.
In his letter, Padgham said estimated the cost of ISA applications could top £18m, adding: “Experience and evidence is that there is very little recognition by local authorities of additional statutory burdens in contract prices.”
Severe impact on workforce
Were home care staff themselves to have to meet the costs, this could “severely impact on home care worker recruitment and retention when turnover in the sector is running at almost 25%”.
He added: “We believe there is certainly a case for costs to be waived for home care workers in a sector which is beleagured by regulatory costs, and evidentially limited in their ability to recoup these costs.”
Padgham also questioned why two schemes concerning the conduct of home care workers were being introduced at the same time, warning that duplication should be avoided.
An ISA spokesperson said: “The £64 ISA application fee will be a one-off cost for anyone working in regulated roles and can be moved from job to job. It will make carrying out pre-employment checks easier and quicker.
“ISA registration will provide another safeguard, not a complete one-step solution to safe recruitment. Further job specific checks may still be needed.”
Essential information on social care workforce