As Terry Babbs, our Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee (FPC) explained in his blog post published on 14 October, Council met on 21 October to make a number of important decisions about our budget, reserves policy and the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) for 2022. Council then approved our Costed Corporate Plan (CCP) for 2022–2024, which details our workplan over this period.
But before explaining what Council approved it’s important to highlight that in making these essential financial decisions, the focus of the Council’s discussion was on ensuring that we are able to deliver our core purpose effectively: ensuring patient safety and maintaining public confidence in the professions we regulate.
Although there is continued uncertainty in relation to our income, which comes almost entirely from the ARF, Council was very conscious of providing certainty for dental professionals around the fees that you pay and decided that the ARF would remain at the same level for next year, at £680 for dentists and £114 for dental care professionals.
Council also approved an increase of 4.1% in the operating budget for 2022, and although this is an increase compared to the 2021 budget, which was stripped back due to the ongoing pandemic. This increase reflects the planned return to usual activities and workload we anticipate having to deliver next year. The approved 2022 budget is 2.5% lower than the budget we set for 2020 and we still remain in the three-year cost envelope identified at the start of this planning period. At the same time Council agreed that our reserves policy would remain unchanged.
Robust planning and governance
Although Council makes these financial decisions in October, many months of work and effort go into planning and preparing in advance of this. We started work on the 2022 budget and CCP back in January. Our budget and plan are constructed using a bottom-up approach, firstly we detail what we need to do to achieve our statutory duties, reviewing the requirements of our strategy and any new issues that have arisen; we then work out how we can do that as effectively and efficiently as possible, which is what creates the three-year CCP. Once we have our plan, we then determine the resources that we will need to deliver this work in the next year, and what that will cost, which gives us our budget. This in turn leads to the income necessary for our statutory duties, from which we then derive the ARF necessary to deliver that income.
Once these plans are completed there is a robust governance process. Firstly, each round of planning is reviewed and approved by our Executive Management Team and, in parallel, by the GDC’s Chief Executive in his role as Accounting Officer. The plans are then scrutinised by the FPC before the final versions are presented to Council for approval. Advice to Council is provided by the Accounting Officer, confirming that the budget and plan are robust and proved appropriate capacity and resilience to deliver Council’s strategic objectives. This included his assessment of the income and expenditure risk assumptions made in preparing the budget and CCP and how we plan to mitigate against these.
Although much work and effort has gone into developing the budget and CCP, I strongly believe that this has been time and effort well spent. These remain difficult and challenging times for all of us, but I am confident that the GDC remains well placed to deliver our core purpose as set out in legislation, which is to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, and to uphold professional standards and confidence in the dental team.