The home care sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland faces a deepening recruitment crisis unless councils take into account rising regulatory costs in their contracts with providers.
That is the warning from the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA), which has raised concerns that additional fees for workers to join the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s vetting and barring scheme, which came into force this week, combined with £6 for a Pova first check, totals £70 per worker.
The one-off membership fee for the ISA scheme will be £64 per worker in England and Wales and £58 in Northern Ireland, and includes a £28 ISA check and £36 Criminal Records Bureau check.
The UKHCA believes regulatory fees for the workforce in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, estimated to number more than 300,000, will cost the sector £18m over five years after the scheme becomes compulsory from November 2010.
The ISA fees are payable by workers themselves, and although many providers are expected to offer subsidies, Colin Angel, head of policy and communications at the UKHCA, warned that not all of the association’s 1,800 members would be able to do so unless councils recognised the additional costs within contracts for services.
“It is difficult to regard these charges as anything other than a fee to workers to join the regulated home care sector,” Angel said, echoing the message of the UKHCA’s submission to the Low Pay Commission’s consultation on the minimum wage for 2010.
Angel told Community Care: “The home care sector has a horrendous [annual staff] turnover rate of 25%, and because of the time lag between somebody applying for a job and having the checks done, they often go off elsewhere to find another job while they are waiting.”
He expressed concern that councils would fail to take into account the additional costs in the current financial climate “when directors of social services are being forced to make efficiency savings of 3.5%”.
A separate scheme for Scotland, run by the government-funded body Disclosure Scotland, will come into effect in 2010, although registration costs are not yet known.