GOC registrant fees to rise 6.6%

The optical regulatory confirmed at its latest meeting that fees for optometrists, dispensing opticians, and body corporates will rise to £405 in 2024

The word ‘welcome’ is written in white letters at the bottom left of a wooden reception desk . Behind the reception desk, on a grey wall, the words ‘General Optical Council’ are printed. Within this title, the word ‘Optical’ is printed in white on a blue, raised circle.

The General Optical Council (GOC) has confirmed that registrant fees will increase in line with inflation by £25 – a 6.6% increase – from April 2024.

Optometrists, dispensing opticians, and body corporates will pay £405 to the optical regulator, while the fee for students will remain the same at £30.

The discount for low-income fees will remain at £120, meaning that the low-income fee will rise from £260 to £285.

The previous year, fees were increased below-inflation to £380. Between 2020 and 2023, registration fees remained frozen at £360.

Speaking at the latest meeting of the GOC Council (13 December, held online), GOC director of resources, Yeslin Gearty, shared that a lower increase in fees would reduce reserve levels.

“We must be prudent when it comes to making sure that reserves levels are maintained appropriately,” he said.

Gearty added that the GOC anticipates moving towards a longer-term fee strategy that would ensure that businesses and registrants have certainty about the fee increases that are proposed in future years.

He emphasised that the fee level was set to ensure that the GOC can continue to fulfil its statutory remit and manage risks in a climate of economic volatility.

GOC Council member, Ken Gill, shared that the fee setting decision was “incredibly complex and challenging.”

“Ultimately this is an important decision that will impact on registrants,” he said.

“Driving us is value for money on business as usual and also ensuring that our strategic spend enables us to move at pace,” Gill added.

GOC Council member, Tim Parkinson, shared that while the increase did appear to be “relatively large,” he could understand the reasoning behind it.

“We have had a number of years of freezes where effectively we have taken a giant financial hit to support registrants through some fallow years,” he said.

GOC Council member, Josie Forte, questioned whether the GOC could permit the payment of fees in several instalments.

“At the moment payments all come through in one hit. Should we be thinking about spreading payments throughout the year?” she said.

In making her remarks, she acknowledged a potential conflict of interest as a business owner who pays the registration fees of staff members.

Responding to comments, Gearty observed that he was unsure whether incremental payments would be permitted under the current rules.

He also highlighted that failure to pay fees results in removal from the GOC register.

“If we have to take people off at different points during the year, it would be harder to maintain the integrity of the register,” Gearty observed.

The GOC Council voted to pass the registrant fee rules for 2024 to 2025.