The HCPC spent over £17000 a year on their Christmas parties for three years running. This week they announced that they are ‘reluctantly’ raising their fees by 18%.
In November I gave £90 to the HCPC.
£90 in the run up to Christmas.
£90 to a service whose only purpose is to police me.
I heard from colleagues who were forced to go into their overdrafts in order to pay a regulatory body whose only real purpose is to police those who make up the workforce of the sixteen professions they oversee.
In December my work’s Christmas party involved me and three colleagues going for a couple of pints in a local pub. There was nothing organised by our organisation, and certainly no funding for any formal event, so we arranged our own low-key gathering one night after work.
It didn’t get started until after 7pm because all of us were working late, again.
How different things would have been had we worked for the HCPC.
A freedom of information request relating to HCPC expenses reveals that the HCPC know how to enjoy themselves at Christmas, and that their merriment comes directly from the registration fees of people like me and you.
A request showed that our registration fees helped fund the following:
£17,052.15 for a Christmas party in 2015
£17,224.36 for a Christmas party in 2014
£17,173.10 for a Christmas party in 2013
The same request also revealed that:
The agreed cost of the lunch was £72 per head including VAT, which
included 1 glass of sparkling wine on arrival, a 3 course meal, a third of a bottle of wine or 1 soft drink, hire of a public address system with
microphone and staffing of a cash bar if HCPC employees wanted to purchase more drinks.
A further 37 bottles of wine were provided on the day at a
cost of £145.15 including VAT.
Yeah… you read that right… they got a third of a bottle of wine anyway and still felt they needed to buy another 37 bottles on the day.
At your expense.
And if you want to know where they held this boozy party, it was at the Oval Cricket ground. Fancy.
As you can imagine, this information coming out to the public wasn’t a good look for the HCPC. Especially at a time when the individuals staffing the professions they regulate were facing the sixth year of pay freezes, crippling austerity measures and crumbling support for public services.
Another freedom of information request reveals that, in light of this news about past extravagances getting out, the HCPC held a ‘review’ of their Christmas parties. That means the 2018 party ‘only’ cost ‘approximately £5,000.00’. How kind.
This week the HCPC announced the outcome of their consultation into their registration fees.
Their council has ‘reluctantly agreed to proposals to increase the registration renewal fee by £16 from £90 to £106 per year’.
In delivering this news, their Chief Executive and Registrar, Marc Seale, had the following to say:
“We are very sensitive to the concerns of respondents and recognise the strength of views expressed. We are also very aware of the economic context in which our registrants and the HCPC operate. We have, therefore, identified cost reductions and income generation opportunities to minimise the impact of these increases.”
“However, as a self-financing regulator we do not receive any ongoing funding from other sources. Whilst our Council has agreed to these increases, we continue to have the lowest fee of all the independent UK health and care regulators.”
“This decision means we can continue to invest in our regulatory performance, specifically our efforts to reduce the length of time fitness to practise investigations take and develop our registration services to meet modern-day expectations. It also enables us to meet the Council’s commitment to move away from the existing reactive model of regulation, to one where we proactively help to prevent problems arising in registrants’ professional practice, reducing the burden and stress for all involved in the process.”
I wonder just how ‘sensitive to the concerns of respondents’ the HCPC were when they were spending £17,000 a time on boozy parties at a time when their registrants were supporting families who faced the dilemma of whether they would prefer to be hungry or cold at Christmas?
A tokenistic nod towards the strong opposition to these fee increases was given when the statement revealing this news mentioned how the ‘Council recognised that the majority of respondents disagreed with proposals to increase the renewal fee and explored the concerns of many organisations and the individual registrants who responded’.
A word of ‘recognition’ but then a move to increase fees regardless.
I’ll be waiting to see how much of this 18% fee increase is going towards parties funded by the HCPC’s communications budget.
I’m even keener to see how much of this increase goes towards funding the law firms they employ (from 2011-2016 they gave the Kingsley Napley firm £18,285,260 and the Bircham Dyson Bell firm £5,007,507). I’ll be writing about this expense on legal firms in more detail next week too.
The HCPC may be watching us. But we should also be watching them.