Many of the changes proposed at the Strategy and Standards Group review meeting of the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) have been welcomed by the Small Business Network. The meeting, which took place on Tuesday 24 April, was attended by Small Business Network representatives and others from key players across the security industry including the International Professional Security Association, the British Security Industry Association, The Security Institute and G4S alongside the CEO and senior management from the Security Industry Authority (SIA).
The key suggestions for improving the ACS for the future were noted by the SIA as having been endorsed by the industry after wide consultation and the day’s thorough debate. The reactions to the new ACS requirements were considered a ‘eureka’ moment for many in attendance as the SIA was deemed to have “listened and understood”.
The new proposals are expected to be implemented in 2019 following a proposal document due to be published in July this year. Most importantly, and in recognition of the changing nature of the private security industry, the SIA has committed to an annual review of the ACS. It was also agreed that further liaison with insurance industry leaders at the highest level would take place.
Small Business Network spokesperson Abbey Petkar (managing director at Magenta Security) commented: “Over the last few years, the SIA has come under criticism for a host of decisions. However, it’s clear that, when it comes to the ACS, the Regulator has listened to the industry, taken on board its opinions and is now looking to add far greater value for all those involved. If implemented, the suggested changes will enhance the industry as a whole in the eyes of its clients and the wider security business sector. We’re delighted that the Small Business Network’s list of required changes has been addressed. However, we will still be looking closely at the detailed drafting of the new regulations to ensure that the final proposals are in alignment with our desires.”
Detail of proposed changes
The proposed changes include the following:
*Ensuring directors are fit for purpose: This focus on business leaders within the industry will ensure staff and clients are protected from unscrupulous business owners with a history of poor trading practices
*Requiring all staff to be on PAYE (unless specifically agreed with HMRC): This move will create better working conditions for staff and ensure that they are provided with applicable benefits such as pensions and holidays, while at the same time being paid respectable wages
*Investment in marketing: Moving forward, the SIA will more effectively market the ACS to end user clients and third parties, creating greater understanding of the benefits and allowing them to appreciate why they should prioritise security firms who are part of the scheme when it comes to tenders
*Limit Government and local authority contracts to ACS members: In a true demonstration of the support the SIA is putting behind the ACS, one suggestion is to limit Government contracts to members of the scheme
Petkar concluded: “The Small Business Network is delighted by the effort that the SIA has put into these changes considering that we’ve spent many years recommending a number of them not only to the Regulator itself, but also to Government and its membership. We recognise that they are currently just proposals, but look forward to seeing how they develop moving forward and to their eventual outcomes.”