Further information to prepare you for the new ACS Standard
Countdown to the new Standard on Monday 1 April
The changes from the Review of the ACS carried out during 2018 will come into effect on Monday 1 April. It is vital you understand these changes and how they will impact your business.  
From this date, you must be able to demonstrate conformance to this Standard. Your next ACS assessment will include all indicators, and your assessing body will be required to produce a full report following the assessment. This will provide you with detailed findings of your performance against the new Standard, and help to promote consistency across all approved contractors.
The relevant ACS assessment year for your business will revert back during the 2020-21 assessment cycle.
A number of themes emerged during the consultation phases of the review which shaped our thinking on how we can strengthen and improve the ACS. These themes included:
  • the purpose of the scheme
  • eligibility criteria
  • promoting the scheme and raising buyers’ awareness of it
  • raising the standard
  • compliance with HMRC
  • arrangements for public sector contracts and future ownership of the scheme.
The evidence from the consultation phases suggested that we did not need to make fundamental changes to the scheme, however it was clear from the responses there were opportunities to make improvements.

This e-alert summarises the changes that we are making to the scheme.

All the changes will come into effect on Monday 1 April.
We have published a refreshed and new ACS Standard. The new ACS Standard will be mandatory from Monday 1 April. You have until this date to ensure that you are ready to be assessed against all of the indicators in the new self-assessment workbook.
*For assessment on or before Friday 31 March
You will be assessed against the current ACS Standard which  has 87 indicators. On Friday 8 March the Online Achievement Record will no longer reflect the current standard please do not complete it. You must still complete your ACS self-assessment and demonstrate the outcome of this to your chosen assessing body, informing them of your results. This may be done as you feel suitable. Your self-assessment should provide a meaningful and demonstrable narrative against the existing ACS Standard, to support the verification of these scores during the assessment of your organisation.
For assessment on or after Monday 1 April you will be assessed against the new ACS Standard which has 78 indicators. The Online Achievement Record will reflect these indicators as of Saturday 9 March. You will be able to submit your self-assessment results using the Online Achievement Record in advance of your assessment.

We advise you to undertake a full business review at the earliest opportunity to see how these adjustments will impact your business and make any changes to ensure ongoing conformance to requirements. 

Summary of changes
We have listened to feedback and have made a number of key changes which we believe will strengthen the ACS: 
  • The Standard has been updated to place greater emphasis on service delivery. This will help businesses to drive improvement that further mitigates the risks and threats to customer assets. 
  • The self-assessment workbook which contains the quality indicators that approved contractors must demonstrate have been met has been streamlined and made clearer and easier to navigate. Visit our approved contractor pages on our website.
  • We have revised the eligibility criteria and 'fit and proper' conditions and this is incorporated in 'Get Approved' to ensure only sound, sustainable and credible companies are able to join the scheme.
  • We are revising our approach to how we market the scheme and provide support for businesses.
Changes to the ACS Standard criteria
To reflect a focus on service delivery, the second criterion of the ACS Standard has been reworded and now places less emphasis on process.

The content under 'Corporate Social Responsibility’ has been embedded within ‘Strategy’. The current criterion on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ was viewed by some of the industry as feeling out of place and not necessarily describing the content (which includes counter-terrorism and environmental aspects). It was viewed as being more appropriate to position this content within Strategy.

The content of the ‘Results’ criterion has been embedded within each of the other seven criteria (and where appropriate new indicators developed where there are currently some gaps) to create a more cohesive document.

These changes have an impact on scoring as a consequence of there being fewer criteria in the new Standard than in the current.

Changes to the Self-Assessment Workbook
  • We have made the new Self-Assessment Workbook clearer and changed the design to make it easier to use.
  • We have removed negative statements (e.g. “no customer or consumer performance indicators have been established”), and removed the overlap between some of the incremental steps within the indicators.
  • This has resulted in a more streamlined presentation in the self-assessment workbook, which simply presents the ‘required achievement level’. For most indicators this level remains unchanged; feedback suggested that the level of demand of the ACS is challenging, but appropriate.
  • We have also brought in the glossary from the Self-Assessment Workbook guide, so that the Self-Assessment Workbook is more self-contained.
  • Where some indicators were identified as benefiting from additional detail, this has been brought in from the Self-Assessment Workbook guide.
Pre-approval interviews
We will conduct a ‘pre-approval interview’ with any new applicant business.

This is likely to be a pre-arranged phone interview but may be conducted in person with the controlling mind(s) of the business by a member of our team.

The outcome of this ‘pre-approval interview’ will help to inform our assessment of the business’ compliance with our ‘fit and proper’ conditions and identify whether there are any additional assessment needs.

New eligibility criteria and 'fit and proper' conditions - Get Approved
The enhanced scrutiny will give clients and enforcement partners the assurance that they are working with some of the best run businesses within the industry. For example: 
  • We are taking a firmer approach with PAYE. You must give justification and evidence as to why your staff and those you deploy are not PAYE. Given the nature of the private security industry, HMRC guidance indicates that the vast majority of licensable individuals supplied by private security businesses should be employees for both the purpose of tax and national insurance contributions and from an employment perspective. Thus benefitting from a contract of employment (setting out employment rights) securing better terms of employment resulting in fewer workers open to exploitation.
  • Businesses must supply at least two licensable operatives under a contract for security industry services.
  • There will be more checks on those who are associated with the business e.g. shadow directors.
  • A lengthier period of demonstrable trading by a business applying to become an approved contractor.
  • 'Get Approved' contains the details of the 'fit and proper' conditions.
We have opted not to alter the fee structure at this time and the existing headcount model will remain in place.

Fee calculation will be reviewed as a standalone area in the future along with other proposed models e.g. revenue based or headcount based on full time equivalent.

We have retained the current scoring system, (although the scores for different indicators, and therefore the maximum score achievable, have been changed). This has the advantage of providing a basis for further continuous improvement.
Marketing the ACS and support for businesses
We are revising our approach to how we market the scheme, and provide support for businesses. We plan to:
  • Ensure businesses are better supported during the application process, leading to less use of external assistance/consultants.
  • Provide support to approved contractors to drive their operational improvement.
  • Support approved contractors using our Licence Assist and Licence Management services.
  • Develop an interactive Self-Assessment Workbook and guidance in due course.
Your questions answered
We have tried to anticipate some of the questions you may have. This document will be updated as required.
Find the answers to your questions here
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