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Enhanced CRB price hike of 22%.

From 06 April 2011, the safety and security of the most vulnerable people in society could be severely undermined by the very Government department responsible for it. The Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) has just decided to raise the cost of its enhanced disclosures by 22% (from £36 to £44).

…and they’ve given us three few weeks’ warning. Thanks CRB.

At a time when local authorities are squeezing the budgets for care providers - when these providers are interrogating every pound they spend in order to stave off redundancies – this massive increase in fixed costs will come as a hammer blow and will lead to increased risk for children and vulnerable adults.

1. Inappropriate new employees
Every new employee in the care sector has to undergo an enhanced CRB disclosure. Care providers recruiting their own staff will need to move money from their overall staffing budget to pay for this fixed cost.

This means less in the pot, and wages bring driven down. This invariably leads to lower-quality and inappropriate staff, and an increased risk to the very people the provider is caring for.

Similarly, recruitment consultancies will find it difficult to pass these increased costs on their care provider clients. Absorbing this extra cost may result in them cutting corners in their recruitment process.

And when recruiting for the care sector, you simply cannot afford to cut corners.

2. Inappropriate temporary staff
Agencies are responsible for carrying out an enhanced CRB disclosure for all its candidates. Again, they may pay for the extra cost by cutting corners, or by simply passing it on to their candidates’ pay packets.

I’ve said it before: lower wages invariably leads to lower-quality and inappropriate staff; and an increased risk to very people they are in the business to protect.

That may be bad enough, put pales into insignificance when you consider the terrifying effect this may have on existing employees…

New employees arrive with a new enhanced CRB disclosure. Once they are in their position, most care providers renew this disclosure every one to three years. This may be best practice, but it is not mandatory. And there is the nub of it.

Think about this in terms of a car. It arrives all bright, shiny and fit for purpose. After three years you need to get it checked and certified, and then every year after that.

During that time it may show no outward signs of problems, but this is a matter of safety and minimizing risk. If simply for the peace of mind for its drier, passengers and other road users, the annual MOT is a statutory obligation.

Now imagine if the annual MOT was considered best practice, but not mandatory? Imagine if the government then hiked MOT charges by 22%? Well… there would be utter carnage.

People just wouldn’t bother. They would take one look at their diminishing income and another at the fixed household bills. They would then look at their car, kick its tyres, and say "that’ll do.”

And that’s precisely what is going to happen to the care sector. Local and national government have given care providers little choice. With lower budgets and increased costs, they are going to take one look at their staff and say "that’ll do.”

The whole point of a CRB renewal service is to minimize risk to the patient, end user, child or adult.

That care assistant was convicted of theft and drug offences, just a few months after she started looking after your mum. Her employer doesn’t know, so you certainly won’t.

What about that cab driver taking you to the station. He was given three points and a £500 fine for driving with no insurance last year, but does his employer know? Would you like his employer to know?

This is criminal… only it isn’t. It’s Government policy and it’s happening in three weeks. So thanks CRB.

Thanks for the 22% hike in costs at a time when budgets are being shaved to the core.

Thanks for undermining care sector jobs and alienating the most skilled workers.

Thanks for saying it is okay "kick tyres and make do” when caring for the sick and vulnerable.

Thanks for undermining the safety and security of the very people you are there to protect.

…and on a personal note: my own thanks for the three weeks’ notice. That’s plenty of time to forward plan, rip up budgets and sales forecasts, and then start again.

We can use all the spare time to amend, update and replace all of our marketing material, websites and corporate letters and details, speak to our clients, candidates and care providers and generally re-think our entire business.

Much obliged.