Regulatory Authorities in Social Work

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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
18 February 2010
Carried as Amended

This Conference recognises the importance of ensuring that social work and related practice is of a high standard, and that regulatory authorities have a role to play in this process. The regulatory system must be one that has the confidence of the workers who are subject to its regulation, and must therefore to be seen to be fair and equitable.

Several aspects of the operational procedures of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Disclosure Scotland (DS) Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVGS) for Scotland have already given cause for concern. This also includes how they interact with the professional regulation schemes run by the UK Care Councils. Conference notes:

1)Decisions to bar will be based on written evidence alone, without the opportunity of representation, cross examination etc

2)Appeals against a barring decision placing a person on the barred register can only be made on a point of law or error of fact

3)It is possible for a worker to be referred simultaneously to the ISA or DS and to one of the 4 UK Care Councils on the same issue, (and theoretically possible for each organisation to reach different conclusions)

4)Workers suspended from practice whilst cases are dealt with can be dismissed by an employer, despite the fact that they could be exonerated at a later stage

Conference further notes that UNISON has set up a working cross service group and a wider TUC group to fully address, campaign and lobby both the ISA, the key government departments, the Home Office , Department of Health and Department of Children, Families and Schools. In Scotland parallel work is taking place to lobby the Scottish Government.

Conference notes that UNISON is lobbying to:

a)Make it mandatory for employers to pay for the registration fee for the scheme rather than it being borne by the applicant

b)Prevent duplication of regulatory mechanisms that would lead to over-regulation, particularly for those already on a relevant professional register

c)Ensure that everyone has the right to a fair hearing and appeal

With the further roll out and the implementation of the vetting and barring schemes, Conference calls upon the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

i)Improve the rights to a fair hearing, representation and appeal process when a “minded to bar” notice is issued

ii)Ensure that vetting and barring procedures work in congruence with other regulatory and professional bodies avoiding duplication

iii)Place the Code of Practice for Social Care Employers on a statutory basis so it can be properly enforced

iv)To produce branch guidance for members who receive a “minded to bar” notice

v)To produce guidance and campaign materials on negotiating costs and employment procedures with the employer