The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) answers Community Care readers’ questions on the fees and costs of being a member:
Q: Can you explain your fee structure?
A: Our registration fee is currently £80 a year for all registrants, which is based on our projections of future activity levels and considered by the HCPC council annually.
We are very conscious of the financial landscape that both we and our registrants are working in and make every effort to manage our costs as efficiently as possible.
We continue to have the lowest renewal fee of all the statutory regulators overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.
Q: I work part-time. Do I have to pay the same as a full-time social worker even though I don’t earn the same?
A: The renewal fee is the same for all registrants, including those who work part time.
We are unable to offer a discount for part-time working because our costs in undertaking our role as a regulator are the same, regardless of whether someone is working full or part-time.
The additional costs of administering such a system would need to be passed on to all registrants.
Q: Why has the renewal fee recently increased?
A: As an independent regulator we are self-financing and our operating costs are funded entirely by registrant fees. We do not receive any regular funding from government.
It is important that we have the correct level of income to deliver our processes effectively, but also to meet rising costs and to continue to develop the service we provide in protecting the public.
Based on our projections of future activity levels and to ensure a balanced budget, we needed to increase the renewal fee from £76 to £80.
As a result of feedback from our stakeholders, we agreed that we would take an incremental approach to fees, making every effort to avoid large and unplanned increases. This is consistent with that commitment.
Q: Why is the HCPC’s registration fee higher than that of the former GSCC’s?
A: The former General Social Care Council (GSCC) received funding from government, meaning the fees paid by social workers to the GSCC were heavily subsidised by the government.
The HCPC does not receive any regular funding from the government and so the registration fees we charge pay for all our operating costs, including approval of education programmes including social work degrees, maintaining a register of professionals and removing those who pose a risk to themselves or the public.
Q: What benefits am I getting for my money? If I have any problems I go to Unison.
A: We are a regulator, and we were set up to protect the public. Because of this, our role is different to that of professional bodies and trade unions, who work to represent their members.
Although our main aim is to protect the public, registering with us has clear benefits for health and care professionals. These include:
- creating public trust by setting standards;
- upholding public confidence in you and your profession; and
- making sure there is consistency by approving education programmes.
To find out more about these and other benefits, download our leaflet, Why your HCPC registration matters.
Q: £120 is going to push me over the edge. I have no surplus between my incomings and outgoings – what kind of help can you provide for someone like me?
A: We provide tax breaks, and options to spread your payments (outlined in the question below).
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has agreed that the annual fee payable to HCPC is tax deductible for UK tax payers. This means that for registrants paying tax at the standard rate of 20 per cent, the £80 annual renewal fee effectively costs £64* after £16 tax relief.
There are three different ways of claiming tax relief on your registration fees.
- If you complete a self-assessment tax return, you can claim tax relief from your registration fees on the employment page of the return.
- If you do not file a tax return, you can claim tax relief using form P87: Tax relief for expenses of employment, available to download from the HMRC website.
- You can telephone HMRC and ask for relief on your fees. Contact details can be found on the HMRC website.
See the HMRC website for further details, including other allowable expenses, eligibility and claiming back tax for past years: www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/how-to-get.htm
* Please note that the full fee is payable to HCPC in all cases. Tax relief must be sought from HMRC and cannot be directly deducted from registration fees paid to HCPC.
Q: How can I spread my payments in a manageable way?
A: We understand the potential impact of paying the whole two-year registration fee at once, which is why we have the option to spread the cost by setting up a direct debit instruction. This allows you to pay £40 every six months. For social workers in England, these payments will be taken on or around 1 April and 1 October every year.