Independent Safeguarding Authority

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2009 National Delegate Conference
29 May 2009

Conference notes that The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is a new public body which is being created with the intention of preventing unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. From October 2009, individuals working with vulnerable adults or children will be required to register with the ISA. This will affect over 11 million people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland an aligned scheme is being set up under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) (Scotland) Act 2007, which is expected to be very similar to the ISA scheme. The PVG Scheme – Check to Protect – is expected to be implemented in 2010, although the exact date is yet to be determined.

Conference notes that there are enormous implications for UNISON members. Many members will be required to register, and there is a proposed flat rate fee of £58 (Northern Ireland) and £64 (England and Wales), with no commitment to the cost being met by employers. The rate for Scotland has not yet been set.

Service provision may also suffer, with some individuals choosing not to work in organisations that require ISA or PVG registration because of the cost implication. This could negatively impact on the support and services provided to vulnerable groups. If employers are forced to pay, this may mean cuts in services to fund the additional costs.

In a climate when under resourced, fragmented services mean high profile and tragic failures, the pressure on our members in these services is immense. Whilst recognising the necessity of these safeguards, UNISON understands that often, when allegations are made against workers in areas that will be covered by the ISA and other processes, they feel that they are considered ‘guilty until proven innocent’. The stress and humiliation which accompany those investigations into often unfounded allegations can in themselves be very damaging to our members.

Conference believes that employees should not have to pay for an additional registration, especially as many already have professional registration for which they pay fees. The majority of individuals who will come under the new schemes are women; many work part-time and a large number are low paid workers. It is unacceptable that they should bear this extra charge.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Campaign to ensure that workers and users of public services do not lose out due to the charges that may be imposed through the introduction of the ISA or PVG scheme and associated schemes particularly:

a)That the registration cost should not be borne by employees

b)That the ISA or PVG scheme should not duplicate existing or new registration schemes

2)Run a recruitment initiative around the ISA and PVG scheme, urging non-members to join UNISON and to campaign to ensure that jobs and service provision are not affected. Continue to campaign for the costs of registration not to be borne by employees.

3) Arrange training for our members who will be affected. This training to cover all areas of Independent Safeguarding Authorities Scheme; its benefits and potential hazards mentioned above in points 1) and 2) and how to negotiate with employers to fund registration fees.

4)Develop a toolkit to help branches in all service groups in negotiations with local employers. The toolkit should be based on best practice, on how employers can best support staff whilst investigative processes are taking place.

5)Develop a package, for branches in all service groups to utilise, of up to date advice and information about what support UNISON can provide for members during these processes.