Unions have criticised a decision taken yesterday by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to raise registration renewal fees by 18%.
The move will see fees for social workers rise by £16 a year, from £90 to £106.
The regulation of social workers is due to pass this year from the HCPC to a new profession-specific organisation, Social Work England. In a Twitter Q&A session this week, Social Work England said it “did not anticipate” imposing its own fee increases before 2020, and would consult before doing so.
More on Social Work England
But the handover date between the two bodies – pencilled in for spring 2019 – remains uncertain, with Social Work England still in the process of setting up its headquarters in Sheffield.
‘Need to safeguard financial sustainability’
The HCPC said in a statement that it recognised that the most people who responded to a consultation on the move disagreed with it, and that it had proceeded “reluctantly” based on financial concerns.
“[Council] explored the concerns of many organisations and the individual registrants who responded,” it said. “However, Council agreed the need to safeguard the HCPC’s financial sustainability, to ensure it can continue to fulfil its statutory role to protect the public and its commitment to meet the expectation of stakeholders.”
But Sara Gorton, head of health at Unison, described the fee rise as “hugely disappointing”.
“The HCPC should be doing all it can to encourage all [those] it regulates to continue in their professions, not discouraging them with such a disproportionate hike in fees,” Gorton said.
Gorton added that Unison was urging MPs to support an early-day motion calling on the HCPC to reconsider its decision.
‘Kick in the teeth’
Meanwhile Unite the Union described the cost increase as “extortionate”, citing a 38,000-signature petition sent to the HCPC protesting the decision.
“The HCPC has given a massive snub to our members’ legitimate concerns,” said Jane Beach, Unite’s lead professional officer for regulation.
“We consulted widely with our members who have to register with the HCPC – and they gave the proposed increase a resounding thumbs-down,” Beach added. “Now they have been given a financial kick in the teeth.”