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Government in miniature

Rumour reaches me of another government IT fiasco. Apparently the grandly-named Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (SCRC) has created a shambles with its system for carers to report on how they're getting on.

Back in the good old days, childminders had a simple business relationship with their customers. If you had to go out to work, you probably found a friend or relative who had children of their own to look after and came to a mutually acceptable arrangement to have them look after your kids too. Money changed hands, and the child went to the childminder for as long as both parties were happy with the arrangement.

In Labour's brave new world, this is not allowed. If someone is going to accept money for childminding, they have to register with the bureaucracy and do as they are told. They have to fill in lots (that's LOTS) of forms, which need to be processed by a whole new bureaucracy set up for the purpose. Another lot of parasites bureaucrats will demand access to the childminder's home to inspect whether it meets the bureaucracy's definition of "suitable" and "safe" or not. They can demand any changes they want. If the cost is too high, that's tough. You can't be a childminder. If the parent has a different opinion on what is suitable and safe, that's irrelevant too. The bureaucracy has spoken. You may not hold opinions different to those of the state.

Now remember that childminding is not a well-paid job. So the result of the government's actions is almost certainly that there will be fewer childminders - who is going to want to go through all that pain, paperwork and cost just to earn a few extra quid a week? This effect is made worse by the fact that the government limits the numbers of children that a childminder can care for at any one time. Again, you have to wonder why they think that parents and childminder aren't felt to be sufficiently grown-up to make these decisions between them.

But that's not all. Every year, SCRC requires childminders to make an annual return. This seems to involve having childminders complete a whole lot more paperwork (it would do, wouldn't it?). There's a self-assessment form to be filled in by the childminder, there's surveys of parents so that they can waste their time too, and there's a new website to negociate. Quite why I, as a parent, have to tell somebody else whether I'm happy with the childminding service is beyond me. If I wasn't happy, why the hell would I send my child there? This isn't being done for my benefit is it?

So cui bono? It goes without saying that there is a whole new bureaucracy to look after the annual returns too. So the chief beneficiaries would appear to be the SCRC themselves. What a bunch of parasites.

Anyway, because they're bang up to date with all the latest interwebby stuff, the SCRC has decided that annual returns can be completed via a whizzy new website. Except that (and we might have expected this) it isn't whizzy at all. It has apparently fallen over big time, with childminders having spent literally days preparing data which has disappeared, apparently without trace, into the bowels of the computer. Apparently some carers have been reduced to dictating their returns to SCRC staff over the phone. These are the lucky ones, because apparently the phones are being diverted to answering machines now.

So we have a set of procedures that are not needed and a bureaucracy that nobody wants, all supported by a computer system that doesn't work.

Government in miniature. 


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Reader Comments (3)

It's already happening.

My wife's aunt has been an 'informal' childminder for more than 20 years in the Edinburgh area.

Without any government certificates, training or monitoring,she looked after neighbourhood children while their parents went out to work. Because she did this from her own home, she didn't need to charge much for each individual child, so everyone benefited. Families were happy to entrust their children to someone they knew well in the local area (she has even cared for a girl whose mother she had looked after 20 years earlier). They got cheaper care than could be provided elsewhere.. Children made friends with other local kids. She got a bit of cash in her pocket and got to know everyone in the area.

It was a traditional solution that suited everyone.

She has given up child-minding because of all the new regulations. She was prepared to put up with all the petty form-filling. However, she was forced to attend a council course on child-care. The "instructor" was a young social worker who had clearly never even been in contact with children.
The final straw came when she was told that giving a child a hug was "inappropriate behaviour".

My wife's aunt has stopped child-minding. As as a result, local families will have to pay more for care amd will have to travel out of the area to find carers. Children won't have a safe and trusted carer any more.

All thanks to government policy. Well F****ing done.
Mar 28, 2008 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered Commenteranon
As with the huge taxes on cigarettes and booze all this endless bureaucracy and legislation will just lead to a parallel and separate economy. But it will only get there if the British finally realize that you don't get any brownie points for obeying the rules. It really is time for civil disobedience. Childminders should network locally, take cash for their services and stick two fingers up at the government.
Apr 1, 2008 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeal Asher
I know a couple of childminders who did this. Somebody informed on them to the Care Commission.
Apr 1, 2008 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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