Social care providers face steep hikes in the fees they pay to the Care Quality Commission as the government demands the regulator recovers the full costs of regulating services.
Under proposals published for consultation today, 100% of the CQC’s annual regulation costs would be met through provider fees. Government currently funds 50% of the regulation budget, which is £224m this year.
The changes would see community social care providers charged £3,287 per year – a 313% increase on the current annual rate of £796. In its impact assessment, the CQC said the hike was necessary because a modelling ‘error’ meant the actual cost of regulating these services was four times higher than previously thought.
Care home fees would rise from £3,761 per year to £4,661 per year, a 23% increase. Health trusts, GPs, dentists and ambulance services would also face fee rises.
The CQC is consulting on whether to stagger the fee rises over two or four years, starting from April 2016. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will have the final say.
How the proposals impact on social care
|Option 1: Fee changes introduced over 2 years||15-16||16-17||17-18|
|Community social care||£796||£2,229||£3,287|
|Option 2: Fee changes introduced over 4 years||15-16||16-17||17-18||18-19||19-20|
|Community social care||£796||£1,369||£2,054||£2,772||£3,287|
Care provider reaction
Care provider bodies expressed anger over the proposals.
Colin Angel, policy and campaigns director for the UK Homecare Association, said it was “outrageous” to increase charges given councils had cut fees paid for social care in recent years.
He added: “Homecare providers have been largely supportive of the new approach to inspection and the introduction of quality ratings, but the CQC is yet to demonstrate it represents good value for money for the organisations it regulates.”
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said there was no justification for charging higher levies at a time when the care sector was “nearing collapse”.
“The CQC know better than anyone the inadequate levels of care funding…In an era of austerity, when we are all being told to tighten our belts, the CQC should lead by example and hold fees at current levels for a least the next three years,” he said.
Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, said he was “enormously disappointed” with the proposals, adding: “Just last year the CQC raised fees by a staggering 9%. At that time its approach clearly lacked robust strategy, financial planning or any sensible business case.”
In its impact assessment on the proposals, the CQC said it was “sympathetic” to providers’ concerns but was “ultimately” constrained by government policy.
David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, said: “We are required to move to full cost recovery and are consulting on how we do this. We recognise the financial pressures faced by many providers, and do not underestimate the impact of any changes to their fees.
“We welcome feedback on these proposals.”