A LICENCE aimed at protecting people judged to be vulnerable and known as a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) document was introduced by the organisation Disclosure Scotland three years ago.
It is required to be held by anyone engaged in caring for such categories of people as the disabled and the elderly, and provides a record-checking safeguard that the individual concerned is of an acceptable character. So far, so good.
However, as with many well-intentioned initiatives, the current operation of the PVG system has served principally to make what is already a bad situation – a dearth of individuals prepared to work as carers – much worse than it need be.
Renowned already as a role for which the financial rewards are modest, carers in Scotland face a situation where they are obliged to pay a licence fee of £59 when they take up a caring position and a further £18 each time they require an updated licence.
The cost is actually much higher since, typically, carers juggle five or six part-time assignments over the course of a month as a means of making a living.
The employer requires the PVG document from each carer but does not meet the costs.
Needless to say, the costs of the licence, not to mention the length of time it can take to get it processed and awarded, has had a severe impact on the number of people who are prepared to act as carers.
And those who suffer as a result are members of the vulnerable groups the licence was designed to protect.
In the east of Scotland in particular this has been a disaster, with hundreds of carer posts going, and remaining, unfulfilled.
The only possible response to what is actually a crisis of care should be a complete overhaul of the PVG system, perhaps with the establishment of a secure central database from which all licensed carers can be assessed.
Penalising carers financially for working at the job for which they have been trained and for which there is such a critical need is a disgrace.
• Alison French is divisional director of the Property & Support Services at Brightwork