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Independent Safeguarding Authority

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

Further to the written statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and families on 17 March 2008, Official Report, column 36WS, I am pleased to announce plans for the work of the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), together with the fee to be charged for applications.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority was established in January this year under powers in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. It will meet the aims of one of the key recommendations made by the Bichard inquiry, which pointed to the need for a scheme to register those seeking work with children or other vulnerable groups.

The ISA’s role will be to consider all relevant information relating to the risk of harm posed by persons seeking to work with children or vulnerable adults, in either a paid or voluntary capacity, and to bar those considered unsuitable for such work. The transition to the new scheme is now under way. From 31 March this year, the ISA began to advise the Secretaries of State for Children, Schools and Families and for Health in connection with new cases arising under the existing barring arrangements, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of schedule 8 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act. From 7 April this year, cases will be referred to the ISA under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2008., under which ISA must include, or consider including, in the new barred lists those individuals who are barred under the current schemes.

From October 2009 the new ISA scheme will “go-live”. From that point, the scheme will consider new applications in relation to persons seeking work with children or vulnerable adults. The fee charged for ISA scheme applications has been set at £28. This is based on cost recovery of the operational costs for the scheme over its first five years of operation, estimated at £246 million. The scheme will cost £84 million to set up.

Taken together with the fee required for a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure check, the total fee for an initial application will be £64. Under the planned arrangements, the ISA element of the fee will be payable only on first joining the scheme. Once registered, employers will be able to verify an applicant's registered status in the scheme by means of a free on-line check. No fee will be payable by those in unpaid voluntary work. The need for subsequent CRB checks will remain a matter for employers, except in those sectors where it is a legal requirement.

The establishment of the ISA plays an important part in the Government’s agenda to meet the Bichard recommendations and ensure the most robust procedures are in place to safeguard children and other vulnerable groups.