Voluntary sector employers have criticised the Home Office for more than doubling the price of criminal record checks.
Home secretary David Blunkett announced that the Criminal Records Bureau's (CRB) fees for carrying out a check are to rise from £12 to £24 for a standard disclosure, and to £29 for an enhanced disclosure.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), said the increase would hit voluntary organisations hard.
"We were very surprised and disappointed to be told voluntary and community organisations are to be hit by the doubling of the cost of criminal records checks," he said. "This decision appears to have been made without any prior consultation and any thought for its impact on the voluntary sector."
Janice Cook, HR director for children's charity NCH, was unhappy that the rise in processing costs had been made without any consultation.
"This is a massive increase. We employ 6,000 staff and most work directly with children. This shows a complete lack of understanding of our resourcing position," she said. "We probably recruit about 1,500 people a year and would need to ask for enhanced checks on about 80 per cent of these."
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "It is entirely reasonable that users of the service should meet the costs of the CRB. However, volunteers will continue to get disclosures free of charge."