Care providers slam CQC over plan to raise registration fees

Providers have slammed Care Quality Commission plans to raise the fees they pay for registration as unfair and poor value.

The Care Providers Alliance, which represents all the major national provider bodies, said the £5.4m rise in overall fee levels from April 2011 was unjustified based on the level of service the CQC is offering.

The CQC issued the plans last October and they are designed to increase the share of CQC’s regulatory costs borne by fees from 56% to 67%,

However, Miranda Wixon, chair of the Care Providers Alliance (CPA), said: “Our members are experiencing delays in registration of managers, new services and variations, and as a sector we feel communication with us is poor.

“Yet CQC are proposing considerable fee increases for some providers which means they will be paying more for what is, in effect, a reduced service which is not working well.”

In its response to the proposals the CPA calculated that residential care homes with over 61 beds will see their fees increase by 81%.

The alliance also said that adult care providers were being unfairly charged compared with NHS trusts. It calculated that an NHS trust with a turnover of more than £500m will pay annual fees of £115,000, just 0.02% of its turnover, while adult care providers will pay £53.7m in fees a year, 0.4% of turnover.

It said this would put adult care providers at a disadvantage in competing for NHS-funded services with trusts in the healthcare market that the government is creating through its Health and Social Care Bill.

The CQC plans to divide providers into bands to calculate their fee rate; currently care home providers have their fees worked based on the number of beds they provide. The CPA said there was no justification for this and it would disincentivise providers to expand into the next band up as they would face large financial penalties for doing so.

After the proposals were launched last year, CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “We do not underestimate the impact on providers of paying fees, especially in the current economic climate. We have looked carefully at our costs and will continue to do so. We have a responsibility to collect fees from those we regulate and to demonstrate we are an efficient and effective regulator.”

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