KCC partners with the Vulnerability Registration Service

Person leaning against a wall looking down

Vulnerable residents now have a greater level of protection thanks to a partnership between the Vulnerability Registration Service (VRS) and Kent County Council (KCC).

The VRS is a national not-for-profit organisation that hosts a central, independent database of vulnerable individuals.

The idea through this data share is to alert participating companies, irrespective of sector, to the fact that a vulnerability exists and that an individual’s circumstances should be taken into consideration in any interaction with them. It also avoids someone having to repeat often difficult details about their situation, especially relating to debt and financial problems.

Vulnerabilities recorded can include a range of issues including a risk of domestic abuse, a gambling addition, a disability and physical and mental health challenges.

The goal is that the registered person is treated with sensitivity as a result and it provides an additional layer of protection against fraud and financial abuse when vulnerable people are significantly more likely to fall victim to identity theft, scams or coercion.

It also gives carers additional reassurance where they are responsible for the management of the affairs for those they care for.

The partnership has been running for four months and Financial Hardship Team Project Manager at KCC Stacey Clark is really pleased with the results so far.

She said: “Residents are added to the register for free with their consent to help relieve some of the pressures often present when experiencing financial hardship.

“The VRS for example can help offer an assurance that no one can take credit out in the registered person’s name without an alert being raised. Sadly, sometimes family members take advantage and will apply for credit without the vulnerable person knowing.

“It also helps residents who are suffering from mental health issues as it informs how creditors and lenders manage their cases, which can help them feel less overwhelmed, especially important at this time due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“It is not always easy for us to identify who are most vulnerable residents are, this remains our biggest challenge. People in vulnerable circumstances may be significantly less able to represent their own interests, and more likely to suffer harm than the average consumer, which is why this is crucial work.”

To complement this, the VRS has joined ReferKent – Kent’s online referral platform ensuring people are put in touch with the right contact to receive the help they need as quickly as possible. Any organisation a part of ReferKent can refer any individual to VRS.

Helen Lord, CEO of the Vulnerability Registration Service

It is great to see KCC taking such a proactive approach to support those that are vulnerable and help prevent them falling further into hardship.

Helen Lord CEO, Vulnerability Registration Service

Helen Lord, CEO of the Vulnerability Registration Service said: “The VRS is really pleased to be working with KCC to highlight where residents are in vulnerable circumstances to service providers. The financial climate makes this even more essential. VRS is providing one single route for individuals who are in struggling with financial hardship, mental or physical health-related issues and life events, to alert organisations, across all sectors, that they need an appropriate level of support.

“It is great to see KCC taking such a proactive approach to support those that are vulnerable and help prevent them falling further into hardship. Many other councils and housing providers share data with us so that financial services, insurance, energy, housing and local government can better identify and treat vulnerable customers fairly.”

Further information

On the Vulnerability Registration Service, where residents can also register themselves: https://www.vulnerabilityregistrationservice.co.uk/wishing-to-register/

For a copy of the Vulnerable Registration Service's report into vulnerable customers, visit: https://www.vulnerabilityregistrationservice.co.uk/new-report-reveals-ongoing-and-serious-failings-toward-vulnerable-people-across-all-sectors/

Learn more about Refer Kent here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/cost-of-living-support/professional-referrals/referkent