Unison has demanded the HCPC produce proof it has done everything it can to bring down costs, particularly in relation to “expensive, inappropriate referrals and unnecessary hearings”, before it raises registration fees again.
The demand follows news the regulator is proposing a second fee rise for social workers in the space of a year, despite the HCPC promising no more increases until 2016.
Responding to a consultation by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) on a proposed 12.5% increase in registration fees, the trade union described the fee rise as exploitative and claimed the regulator had a “stranglehold over registrants’ livelihoods”.
Unison head of health, Christina McAnea said:
“The government has stood by and allowed an unaccountable regulator to take advantage and pile on extra increases knowing these professionals have no choice but to pay this fee to practise.”
The proposed increase follows a 5% fee rise introduced last April. This new increase would bring annual registration fees up to £90. One social worker described the fee as “paying for a stick, but there’s no carrot”.
Forced to review early
The HCPC said it was forced to review fees early to cover the costs of their new responsibility to fund the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
But Unison said only £3 of the £10 increase will go towards the PSA levy, with the other 70% of the increase going towards unspecified “other purposes”.
A survey of HCPC registrants conducted by the union unsurprisingly showed 97% of workers do not support the increase.
When the consultation launched, HCPC chief executive Marc Seale said: “We are disappointed by the decision because we believe it has a disproportionate impact on our registrants and the fees they pay.
“We anticipate that the PSA funding will initially amount to approximately £1m per annum based on current registration numbers.”