13 Dec 2018
Najia Qureshi is Head of Education and Professional Development at the BDA.
The BDA has today submitted a consultation response to the Health and Care Professions Council, strongly opposing a proposed 18% increase in registration fees from 2019.
The proposed increase was first announced in September of this year, and would see our members' registration fees rise from £90 to £106. Although this is the first proposed increase since 2015, it is still well above the rate of inflation over that period (roughly 7.5%), and at a time when HCPC registrants have seen their incomes squeezed by pay caps in the NHS and an anaemic economy for those working in the private sector.
The 2015 fee increase saw the renewal fee jump from £80 to £90 per year with a similar level of increase to most of the other fees. Prior to that, renewal fees had increased from £76 to £80 in 2013. Taken together, this would reflect a nearly 40% increase in fees in just seven years. By comparison, the BDA’s membership fees have increased only slightly above the CPI rate of inflation.
The decision by government to remove social workers from the HCPC’s remit next year will impact on the organisation’s income. However, as social workers currently make up over 50% of the council’s fitness to practice workload but only 25% of its registrants, we believe their removal will actually leave the HCPC with extra capacity to improve the FtP process for other professions.
The BDA has also opposed a proposal to scrap the graduate discount, which gives those recently qualified a 50% discount on registration. Recent graduates are most often the lowest earners in our profession, and since the government’s decision to scrap of bursaries, will be entering the workforce with significant student debt.
The HCPC acknowledge calls from registrants for discounts for others, such as those taking parental leave, but have instead decided the 'fairer' approach is to remove discounts for anyone. At a time when many professional bodies and membership organisations are recognising the need for more flexibility in our rates to take account of changing working patterns and life circumstances, this proposal is clearly a backward step.
The BDA has made is absolutely clear that the HCPC has not done enough to justify such a huge increase in fees, and that any work it wishes to do to improve its services should be undertaken by improving efficiency, not increasing fees at well above inflation. We 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.
The BDA has already joined other AHP professional bodies, through the Allied Health Professions Federation, in criticising the HCPCs proposals in an open letter.
The UNITE union has started a petition opposing the increase. You can add your signature here.