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Deputy health minister Tom McCabe today urged providers of housing support services and childcare agencies, who hav...
Deputy health minister Tom McCabe today urged providers of housing support services and childcare agencies, who have been in business since before April 1, 2003, but have not yet applied for registration to the Care Commission, to do so before 30 September to avoid future prosecution.

Mr McCabe welcomed the Lord Advocate's confirmation that he is prepared to grant amnesty against prosecution to these providers, provided they apply before that date.

The amnesty will also apply to those who have submitted applications to the commission between 1 October 2003, and now.

Developing the arrangements for agreeing the type of service being delivered and the number of applications required took longer than expected.

This meant that providers could not meet the closing date for applications.

As a result some providers have been acting unlawfully under the terms of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act since 1 October 2003, when they were no longer deemed to be registered with the commission.

Mr McCabe said:

'Unlike other sectors regulated by the Care Commission, which have been the subject of local regulation in the past, both the housing support sector and childcare agencies are being regulated for the first time.

'The registration process has proven to be more complex than expected. For example, the Act requires providers to submit applications for each separately managed branch of their service.

'It has taken the Care Commission time, working with the sector, to establish a benchmark against which the number of applications required can be determined.

'I do not underestimate the seriousness of this situation. We will take steps at the earliest legislative opportunity to ensure that the registration status of these services is brought within the law.

'We will also ensure that in future the legislation allows adequate time for the Care Commission to work with service providers through the registration process.

'What is important in this case is that continuity of care has been and will be maintained for those who depend on the delivery of these services - some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland.

'The Lord Advocate's statement will reassure providers that we are committed to ensuring continuity of services.

'Many providers have already submitted their applications for registration to the Care Commission and some are registered.

'However I urge all providers who have not yet submitted their applications to do so now to avoid prosecution in the future.'

Housing support services and child care agencies have been regulated by the Care Commission since April 1, 2003.

Any provider not registered with the commission after that date was operating illegally.

However, services in existence on 1 April 2003, and immediately beforehand were deemed to be registered until 31 March 2004, provided an application for registration was received before 1 October 2003.

Legislation requires applications for the registration of each separate service, orbranch of a service (defined as one separately carried on or managed).

Some agencies providing more than one service or branch were unclear on how many applications were needed.

The Care Commission worked closely with them to establish details of typical management structures so that guidance could be offered. It was therefore not possible for many providers to submit formal applications before 1 October 2003.

Ministers intend to lay an order during recess, following a brief consultation period, to temporarily remove the requirement for providers of housing support services to be registered with the Care Commission to receive Supporting People funding.

Ministers intend to lay another order at the appropriate time to restore the requirement to register with the Care Commission to receive this funding.

Applications for registration with the Care Commission must now be submitted before 30 September 2004.

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