CQC to increase fees to providers

CQC is set to increase its fees to providers to fully cover the cost of its ‘chargeable activities’. It’s consultation on regulatory fees, which took place between November 2015 and January 2016, set out a number of proposals to increases to fees.

It has chosen the most aggressive way of recovering the cost of its chargeable activities and seeks to recover fees over two years instead of the more drawn out four year plan for cost recovery. This increase in fees will come at an unwelcome time to the financially pressured care sector. CQC’s grant-in-aid received from the government is set to be reduced by a quarter in the next four years and this proposal will see the regulator meet its targets to fully recover costs ahead of schedule.

At present CQC recovers a little over half of its fees from providers with the remainder coming from Government grants. It marks a fundamental change in the approach by CQC. Some of the fee increases are quite drastic in the two year timeframe, a small NHS trust could see its fees rise from £60k to almost £140k annually, GP’s could face a tripling of fees from £725 to £2574. Care home fees vary depending on the size but will be facing increases in fees which need to be factored into their business models.

The only exceptions to the two year hike in fees relates to dentists, where full cost recovery is already achieved, and domiciliary care home agencies which are furthest from full cost recovery and will see their fees rise over the longer four year period.

David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: –

“We understand that the scheme that has been put forward is not the one the majority of those who took part in our consultation would have preferred.

“In order to achieve our requirement to the Government and commitment to the taxpayer, we need to work towards reaching full cost recovery while reducing our overall budget by at least £32 million.

“In May, CQC will publish its strategy for 2016-21, which will set out how we will be an efficient and effective regulator with fewer resources. It is important that while we make efficiency savings, we can continue to carry out our role effectively. Over the next five years we want to develop our approach so that providers of services get more value from the work that we do, by sharing data about the quality of services and highlighting good practice.

“The fee paid by providers is the charge for entering and remaining in a regulated sector. The public deserves nothing less than safe, high-quality and compassionate health and adult social care, and we must continue to act in their best interests.”

We await the formal response to the consultation which will be published with supporting documentation on 6 April. The move to full cost recovery has proven to be a hard sell to providers in the care sector but the regulator is towing the line of the Government. CQC have stressed that fees for the majority of providers will not exceed more than 1% of a provider’s turnover; that figure is irrelevant in a situation where the majority of care providers struggle to make a profit. What is clear, regardless of how one views the decision to raise these fees, is that they will be imposed as an increased cost of doing business within the care sector from 1 April 2016.

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