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> Fees Q&A
Why are you increasing the fees?
The increase is partly because the Government has decided that the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) will be funded every year by the regulators’ it oversees and the fees charged will be calculated by registrant numbers. However we anticipate that PSA funding will initially amount to approximately £1 million per annum based on current registration numbers but this has yet to be formally set and we cannot be sure what that figure will be in future years. We were therefore compelled to review our fee levels in order to be able to fund this increase to our costs.
The remainder of the increase is to pay for the developments outlined in the consultation document. We have been mindful of the feedback we have received in recent years about the way in which we run fitness to practise hearings. We also need to invest in essential IT systems. The additional income will allow us to make improvements in both of these areas, which will be important in helping us to maintain and improve efficiencies and contain any future increases in the fees over the longer term.
Do you not think it is unfair to increase the fees when so many people and organisations in the consultation didn’t want the increase?
We agree with respondents to the consultation who said that they considered it unfair that our registrants have to pay for the PSA. Whilst the Government’s decision to change the funding arrangements for the PSA was made some time ago, there has been considerable ambiguity since then about the method by which this would be calculated. We had been hopeful that the method chosen would be based on the regulators’ incomes or on a combination of income and registrant numbers and therefore that the impact on our finances and on registrants’ fees would be considerably less. We are very disappointed by the decision to apportion the PSA fee based on registrant numbers as this unfairly and perversely penalises us for keeping registration fees relatively low in comparison to the other regulators.
We are sensitive to the concerns of respondents who said that the increase was unfair because the fees had only recently been increased and because this came at a time when many registrants had experienced negligible increases in their pay. However, as a self-financing regulator we do not receive any ongoing funding from other sources and we have to balance the opposition to our proposals against the need to ensure that we can be financially sustainable over the medium to long term and are able to meet the expectations that registrants and the public place on us to be an effective regulator.
Why are you raising the fees by so much when the PSA fees are only a third of the increase?
In calculating the proposed increase we have to bear a number of factors in mind. The first is that the level of the PSA fee that we will be charged has yet to be formally set and there is considerable uncertainty as to its level in future years. The second is that, as any increase to fees for existing registrants is paid at renewal and we register each profession in two yearly cycles, it will take a full two years before we are able to realise the full benefit of any increase to the fees.
Any time there is a significant change in our cost drivers we have to consider its impact both in the short term and on our financial sustainability over the longer term. In determining our budget forecasts for future years and therefore the level of our fees, we have to make careful assumptions about our costs and our activity levels, for example, the volume of fitness to practice cases we handle. These forecasts have indicated that despite any surpluses in previous years, without increasing our fees, we would make operating deficits in 2015-16 and 2016-17, which would be unsustainable.
Won’t some professions have to pay an increase of £14 because the earlier fee rise of £4 hasn’t been applied to them yet?
Unfortunately yes, because some professions renew every two years the increase of £4 would not have been applied to them yet. However, given the PSA funding will come into effect on 1 August 2015, we have had to review our fee levels now in order to be able to fund this increase to our costs. However, it continues to be the Council’s intention to be as efficient as possible in order to keep fee levels as low as possible.
How did you come up with the figures of your proposed costs?
Our fees are based on our projections of future activity levels. These are set out in the five year plan. In reviewing our fees, we are mindful that because we register each profession on two-year cycle, it will take two full financial years before any increase in the renewal fee has full effect. However in the case of PSA funding we have had little option but to consult on a fee increase earlier than anticipated although we are well aware if we increase our fees it will have an impact on our registrants and the fees they pay.
We view this rise in the renewal fee as a consequence of both planned improvements and developments beyond our control. We have not changed our on-going commitment, whenever possible, to the principle of small, regular increases in the fees (where necessary).
Why has it been such a short consultation period?
We consulted for a shorter period to ensure that any changes to our fees are in place at the same time as the PSA funding regulations come into force.
When will this take effect?
If the proposals are adopted the changes to the fees will be effective from 1 August 2015. This is subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary amendments to the Health and Care Professions Council (Registration and Fees) Rules 2003. Existing registrants would pay the new renewal fee when their profession next renews its registration after this date.
How does the proposed fee increase compare with other regulators?
We agree with respondents who said that it was important that the HCPC was working to be as efficient as possible. Once the increase is implemented, we will continue to have the lowest fee of all the other regulators. However, we are not complacent and we are still committed to ensuring that we are as efficient and effective as possible in order to keep fee levels as low as possible.
Does the HCPC offer any discount of fees?
Yes, for newly qualified registrants get a 50% discount on the renewal fee for their first two years of registration with us.
For registrants the fees are tax deductible for standard rate UK taxpayers. This means that the proposed £90 renewal fee would be reduced by 20% to £72. For more information visit our website at www.hcpc-uk.org/registrants/fees
Currently registrants can also spread the cost by paying the fee in instalments, by direct debit every six months.
What if I work part-time?
The renewal fee is the same for all registrants, including those who may be working part time. We do not offer a discount for part time working because our costs in undertaking our role as a regulator are the same, regardless of whether someone is working full or part time. We also consider that the increased costs associated with establishing such a system and introducing measures to check whether people who registered as ‘part time’ were not working over a certain number of hours would be disproportionate and prohibitive.
How do you manage your costs?
We manage our costs as efficiently as possible. This includes a rigorous budgeting process and regular financial monitoring. The annual budget is approved by the Council who also regularly scrutinise our financial performance.
For example we introduced the ability for registrants to renew online in 2010 and the majority of registrants now choose to renew in this way. Online renewal has benefits for registrants in being able to renew quickly and easily with instant confirmation of their continued registration. It also allows us to manage our resources efficiently so that less time is spent processing paper renewal forms and more time is spent processing applications for registration and answering telephone calls from registrants.
A new IT system has been recently introduced to manage the work of our Education Department. The new system will make this area of our work more efficient by replacing a number of other systems and by driving time and resource savings. We introduced a similar system in recent years to help better manage the work of our Fitness to Practise Department.
What are the dates when the proposed new renewal fee would apply for existing registrants in each profession?
Profession - Renewal period starts
Occupational therapists - August 2015
Biomedical scientists - September 2015
Radiographers - December 2015
Physiotherapists - February 2016
Arts therapists - March 2016
Dietitians - April 2016
Chiropodists / Podiatrists - May 2016
Hearing aid dispensers - May 2016
Operating department practitioners - September 2016
Social Workers in England - September 2016
Practitioner psychologists - March 2017
Orthoptists - June 2017
Paramedics - June 2017
Clinical scientists - July 2017
Prosthetists / orthotists July 2017
Speech and language therapists July 2017
What is the summary of the Council's decisions?
The following are the decisions we have made following the consultation:
• The renewal fee will increase to £90.
• The scrutiny fee for applications from applicants from approved programmes will increase to £63. Applicants from UK approved programmes applying within two years of their qualification will continue to receive a 50% discount on the cost of registration for the first two years of professional registration.
• The readmission fee will increase to £225. This fee includes the first year of registration. Applicants for readmission applying within one month of their removal from the Register will continue to only pay the registration fee.
• The restoration fee will increase to £225 (not £585 as originally proposed). This fee includes the first year of registration.
• The scrutiny fee for international and EEA applications will increase to £495. Where an application is successful, the registration fee is also payable.
• The scrutiny fee for grandparenting applications will increase to £495. Where an application is successful, the registration fee is also payable.
• In future, we will not routinely issue printed registration certificates.
• In future, registrants will be able to decide to receive communications about their registration renewal, including reminders to renew, electronically.
• In future, registrants will be able to pay by direct debit more frequently than six monthly.