Excessive regulation ‘is partly to blame’ for charity’s soaring costs

Sanctuary Trust 2022 'Sleep Out' event in Pier Road car park, attended by around 100 Islanders Picture: James Jeune (35802895)

A HOMELESSNESS charity has claimed that ‘excessive’ care regulation has made it more expensive to operate, after its running costs ‘soared’ by more than £200,000 in a year.

And a child contact centre has warned similar red tape is placing extra pressure on its volunteers, which it said has impacted its ability to provide its services.

The Sanctuary Trust recently revealed that its running costs had more than doubled in the last year, with the charity – which supports up to 30 men across three sites – now requiring more than £400,000 annually to keep its doors open.

Trust chair Frank Walker said new regulatory requirements – particularly relating to staffing cover – had resulted in the need to recruit more people.

‘In our view, [the regulation] is excessive for the work that we are doing,’ he said.

‘It is not the only reason our costs have soared but it is a significant factor.’

Shelter Trust chair Neville Benbow said regulation ‘came with the territory’ but admitted that it had contributed to greater running costs.

‘We see the regulation as appropriate because it is important that we are regulated by an independent assessor. However, we do feel there should be a distinction between profit-making organisations – such as care homes – and not-for-profit charities who are already providing a valuable public service,’ he added.

In January, Milli’s Separated Family Centre announced the closure of its child contact provision – which helps provide a safe environment for children of separated families to maintain a relationship with both parents.

It claimed that regulations introduced within the past two years had redefined ‘contact’ in a way that made it ‘impossible for us to do any work’ and enforced an operating structure upon them that effectively turned it into a government service – disrupting the ‘necessary’ separation and independence that enabled it to operate.

Founder Denise Carroll later announced that, following talks with the Jersey Care Commission, the family centre would be registering and trialling the standards.

However, she stressed that the increased regulation had created unnecessary ‘tick box’ exercises and placed extra pressure on volunteers, who were ‘not happy’.

‘I think it has definitely gone over the top and has caused untold problems,’ she continued.

‘The work that a lot of charities are doing is picking up things that the government isn’t doing,’ she continued, adding that they should be afforded some ‘slack’.

In a statement, the Jersey Care Commission highlighted that the decision to regulate health and social-care services – and to set up the JCC – was taken by the States Assembly through the passing of the Regulation of Care (Jersey) Law 2014 ‘and associated legislation’.

‘Regulation is essential to provide independent assurance, promote best practice and help achieve better outcomes. As a regulator, the commission adopts right-touch regulation principles and only intervenes when necessary. Remedies are appropriate to the risk posed, and costs are identified and minimised. The commission is also transparent, and open, and keeps regulations simple and user-friendly.’

In respect of fees, the JCC noted that they were ‘set by the minister, not the Jersey Care Commission’ and that ‘there have been no significant fee cost increases’.

It also noted that, recognising the size and function of the charity, Milli’s Contact Centre was exempt from fees.

‘The Shelter Trust has four services registered with varying sizes of services – total cost of £19,427,’ the statement continued.

‘Sanctuary Trust is £1,776.10 per annum.’

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