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DBS checks for contractors: A guide for housing associations

Every discipline that a contractor resides within will have specific industry standards that they must meet in order to carry out their job, but aside from these, within the housing association, there are internal standards and requirements that contractors must meet. For example, if a contractor is going to come into contact with a vulnerable person, such as the elderly or children, they need to be DBS checked.

What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is a record of an individual’s unprotected convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that can also include intelligence held by the police that relates to an individual and their suitability for a job position.

Organisations such as the housing association can request that their staff, volunteers or applicants have been checked, but only if they are working/volunteering/applying for a position that is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

There are four different types of checks available:

Basic checks

These can be requested by an individual or by the employer for any role and will show all unspent convictions.

Standard checks

A standard check will show any unspent convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands along with any spent convictions and cautions that are not eligible for filtering. A standard check is suitable where applicants won’t be working with children or groups that could be described as vulnerable.

Enhanced checks

An enhanced check is suitable where the applicant will be working with children, young people and vulnerable groups. This check includes all information described in the standard check as well as intelligence held by the police if they believe it is pertinent to a recruitment decision.

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Enhanced with DBS Barred list checks

This will show the same information as an enhanced check, along with any information that is held on the barred lists.

Why are they important for housing associations?

As housing associations are sometimes described as ‘supported accommodation’, there are a certain amount of services that must be provided in addition to housing, and this includes ongoing maintenance and emergency repairs.

With many housing associations providing homes to the elderly, people with mental health problems or disabilities, vulnerable families with children or even younger single people, it is a requirement that anyone who is carrying out work for the housing association to have an enhanced DBS check.

As mentioned in our blog, Health and safety manager’s guide to monitoring social housing contractors, it’s important to monitor your contractors against your standards and KPIs on a regular basis, a DBS check should fall within this monitoring process.

DBS checks could also be used as a preliminary screening tool for employing new contractors, as those whose results don’t come back as you would like, can be removed from the process.

What else should you think about?

DBS checks for contractors aren’t the only thing that your contractors will need. It’s important that when on boarding any new contractor that you ensure they have all of the right certifications and insurances to show that they can do their job correctly.

As with the DBS check, if there is ever a safeguarding issue where your organisation and the people working with children or vulnerable groups have not been adequately checked, your organisation could be held legally liable, so you need to make sure that you have all of the relevant documents in order.

Contractors management best practice

After reading this blog, you might be feeling a little unsure about how to best manage and monitor your social housing contractors to ensure that they’re meeting requirements. DBS checks are clearly important and need checking periodically – if you haven’t got a system in place to check and monitor these, however, now is the time to begin looking for a solution.

For more information and tips on monitoring and managing your contractors, download our eBook, the Best Practice guide to social housing contractor compliancewhich will teach you all you need to know about the contractor management best practice.

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