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Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 24 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what research he has commissioned on the impact of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 on the number of under 16 year olds in employment; and if he will make a statement; (200609)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of (a) teachers and (b) non-teachers who will be required to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority when that agency comes into operation in October 2009;

(3) what the (a) estimated costs and (b) regulatory impact will be of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 on (i) businesses and (ii) work experience opportunities for teenagers.

The impact on businesses was considered in the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which was updated June 2006, It found that costs for employers, some of whom already vet staff caring for children, will be offset by savings—for example on repeat work, since the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) registration will be portable from job to job—as well as by reduced risk of unsuitable employees. This should encourage employers to continue part-time opportunities for under-16s, including work experience. In addition, most employees that young people come into contact with during their employment will not be required to register with the ISA. This is because looking after, training, supervising etc. the young person during the course of their employment is not a part of those employees’ jobs.

It is envisaged that some 11,3 million people will be required to register with the ISA, mostly due to work which under the Act will be “Regulated Activity” with children or vulnerable adults; 525.6 thousand of these are teachers including occasional and supply teachers in England and Wales (January 2007 statistics).

Earlier this year the Department concluded a consultation on many aspects of the scheme including issues for business and work experience; We have received useful feedback from stakeholders including the British Retail Consortium and work experience providers on how far regulated activity should cover contact with under 16-year-olds in employment and on work experience. Risk can never be eliminated from our lives, but young people must be introduced to it in a measured way. We remain of the view that part-time work is potentially beneficial for under 16s. It introduces them to the world of work and can develop self-confidence, communication and organisational skills, familiarity with money and dealing with other people. We shall publish the outcome of the consultation in due course.

It is not our intention to make any work a regulated activity unnecessarily and we will continue to work with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and with stakeholders to help inform regulations and prepare for implementation of the Act.