I work for a small charity providing sheltered housing in one house and registered care in two others. All serve the elderly and we have 31 residents in all. Currently we are responsible to:
1. the Charity Commission to whom we supply annual accounts and a return
2. Companies Register – ditto –
3. Care Quality Commission to whom we supply annual accounts and monthly NMDS returns and by whom we are inspected regularly
4. TSA to whom we supply annual accounts – what was 'RSR' – and now the highly involved NROSH procedure which in all candour works very badlyf or small providers
5. Supporting People to whom we monthly submit Client Details interface and Performance Indicators on top of annual renewals of contract and maintaining accreditation
6. Our local authorities with whom we have [loss-making] contracts but who also require regular inputs
7. Environmental Health who make periodic physical checks
8. The local Adult Safeguarding Authority
We also have to approach the CRB for just about anyone who comes near our premises.
This is an onerous list for a small charity with part time staff and three properties housing just 31 persons. The level of control and its overlapping of function consume almost 65% of our staff time. It was for this reason – reduction of administrative burden where possible – that we have been considering deregistration as an RSL [registered social landlord]: the advent of the hugely unwieldy NROSH was the last straw.
Breaking it down it is difficult to understand why the dominant authority – in our case the Care Quality Commission who inspect us physically – may not issue a 'passport' for use by the other authorities [assuming they are all necessary] and share the information concerning our status. There is a tendency moreover for officials to act ultra vires and I have on a number of occasions challenged the authorities as to the legality of certain actions and always won. Recently four anonymous complaints were received over a period of a year by CQC. All were thoroughly investigated and found totally groundless. This consumed masses of time and caused a grave loss of morale among staff. It seemed clear that the anonymous writer was malicious and mischievous but CQC insisted on detailed reports: the local safeguarding authority had to be involved and then the local authority contracts team. Assuming that it was sensible to investigate some of the complaints surely one of the authorities might have liaised with the others and shared with our proven clean bill of health. The CQC refused us sight of the original complaint letter despite there being evidence of malice so we were unable to see the precise allegations – merely the CQC's 'take' on the contents. This is totally unjust: it is a cardinal principle of British law that one knows the detail of an accusation.
I turn to Supporting People: I understand that this was set up largely to stem fraudulent use of Housing Benefits. In this it has clearly failed and become a self-serving paper factory. Additionally it removed the confidentiality that a recipient had previously enjoyed. I would submit that abolition of Supporting People would have no detrimental effect. Administration – with enhanced checks on abuse – could revert to Housing Benefits.
The Housing Corporation had become unmanageable and has been succeeded by the TSA and HCA. I have been waiting for information from TSA since November and have only now – in June – secured replies after repeated reminders and ultimately a formal complaint.
Why is this idea important?
I believe that as a nation we are paying through the nose for totally unnecessary jobs. Moreover, people filling those jobs invent ever increasing activities – notably the collection of masses of information of dubious value – ofter duplicated or triplicated seemingly with no reference to other associated bodies. It also proves very difficult to contact the people in the bodies: they seem always to be in meetings, on courses, away days or roadshows – we need bums on seats.
The cumulative effect is devastating for businesses in the real world where trying to be financially viable is severely difficult. In short we need less expensive interference and spurious controls.