Socialist Party
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25 March 2009

Pay for your own vetting

FROM 12 October, if you work with children or vulnerable adults, if you help at a local youth club, Scouts/Guides, work on a doctor's reception desk or deal with information about these groups you may have to fork out up to 100 to get registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), in the Vetting and Barring Scheme.

Hannah Walter

The ISA was set up after the Bichard report's recommendations on the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wise in Soham in 2002. It will cover not only criminal convictions but also cautions and allegations at work (even if they are found to be false).

The government has not yet announced detailed plans of how this will work or what offences will bar people from working in these sectors. But they clearly want public sector workers to bear the cost. As yet there are also no safeguards to ensure that employers will not be able to use this to victimise workers' representatives.

As for cost, it is proposed that the ISA will cost 64 in England and Wales and 58 in Northern Ireland. A separate but linked scheme proposed for Scotland costs up to 100 so those working in the border regions between Scotland and England may have to register and pay twice.

Obviously no-one wants to see a repeat of the Soham murders, but it should be recognised that all employees working with vulnerable people are already checked by the Criminal Records Bureau and many have to be on professional registers.

Many public-sector workers are on extremely low wages anyway - imagine the impact this scheme and its cost would have on a school crossing patrol worker earning under 70 a week or on a part-time receptionist in a GP's surgery.

If public-sector workers are to bear this cost, many people will leave these jobs as they simply cannot afford to pay. If local councils pay then it will be at the expense of our local services. If the government wants public-sector workers to jump through yet another hoop, it should be it not us who are footing the bill. Your local trade union branch/rep should be able to provide you with additional information.