Over the last two years, we have consulted with registrants, trade unions, professional bodies and policy makers, about a proposed increase in our registration renewal fees.
After much discussion, and a 50% reduction in our original proposal, the increase is now going through the approval process in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments. Should it be approved by them, the changes will come into effect on 1 July 2021.
We know that this is an extremely challenging time for our registrants, and all health and care professions. Given that context, the proposed increase, originally planned for last year, has been delayed until now and the original amount of the increase has been halved. Fees for all registrants and applicants are set to increase annually by £8.12, which equates to less than £1 per month.
We have not increased our fees since 2015, and we need to ensure that, as a regulator we remain resourced to carry out our statutory functions to protect the public. Ultimately, this fee change will help us become a regulator which enables, rather than inhibits.
In particular, the fee increase will enable us to accelerate the pace of our Fitness to Practise improvement programme and achieve our aim of adopting a more preventative approach. This will improve public protection and reduce the emotional burden on registrants.
The fee rise will also enable us to invest in smarter technology, as we shift to automated online applications. Better technology will improve our ability to collect, interpret and share data, enabling us to better predict and prevent issues from arising in professionals’ education and practice. It will also improve our understanding of the impact of our work across different groups, and thus support our EDI objectives.
Throughout this process, we have consulted closely with stakeholders across the board including, trade union colleagues, our registrants, and professional bodies. We spent time listening carefully to the concerns, arguments, and views raised about the impact our original proposals. We have found this open communication incredibly helpful and informative and will continue to engage stakeholders on this and other matters.
Registrants will be able to reduce the cost of their fees by claiming tax relief, and they are able to pay in instalments if they choose. We have also decided to keep the 50% discount graduate applicants receive during their first two years of registration, to support those just starting out in a registered profession.
This has been a difficult year for health and care professionals and in many cases, finances have been squeezed. The fee increase will allow us to intensify our efforts to protect the public, whilst making the burden as manageable as possible for our hardworking registrants.
We have learned many lessons during the process of agreeing this fee rise. In line with our new strategy, we will continue the collaborative, listening and empathetic approach that we have developed with our stakeholders, always mindful of our responsibilities to the public.