BIOS strongly opposes the 18% increase in registration fees proposed by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) from 2019. In our response to the HCPC consultation on these changes, we argue that they have failed to provide a clear justification for why the increase is necessary and would encourage them to explore other ways of producing efficiency savings or streamlining their processes before committing to a substantial rise.

First announced in September, the proposals would see the standard renewal fee for our members rise from £90 to £106. Combined with similar rises in 2013 and 2015, this would amount to a 40% increase in seven years, at a time when many of our members have been subject to an NHS pay cap.

The HCPC see these increases as necessary to invest in improving services and, in particular, to improving the capacity, quality and timeliness of their Fitness to Practice process. However, it is not clear from the information given so far how these measures necessitate such a large increase. Further, as many of the improvements suggested are focused on improving efficiency it is unclear why the costs cannot be offset against future savings, removing the need for a permanent increase.

Instead, BIOS felt that the increase seems designed to merely cover the loss in incoming fees caused by the government’s decision to remove social workers from the HCPC’s remit next year. Social workers currently make up 25% of the registrants to the HCPC and will therefore lead to a proportionate cut in their income. However, this loss in fees should also be reflected in a similar reduction in many of the organisation’s costs. In particular, social workers account for a disproportionately high 50% of their fitness to practice cases and therefore their removal should lead to extra capacity and resources to improve services for their remaining registrants.

BIOS will continue to engage with the HCPC on this issue going forward, alongside our AHP colleagues, in order to best represent the views of our members.