The Care Quality Commission’s annual expenditure in 2015/16 was £236 million, which was £13 million under its budget of £249 million for the financial year.
Overall spending was higher than the prior year, largely driven by an increase in staff costs as the organisation achieved its recruitment targets; ensuring that Experts by Experience were supporting a higher number of inspections; and dual running of its London estate as it moved to a new main office in Victoria.
The underspend is important as the watchdog is asked to cut its overall budget from £236 million in the current financial year to £217 million by 2019-20.
The care home industry should welcome news of CQC’s improving efficiency since it becomes one of its main sources of income next year as funding switches from grant-in-aid from the Department of Health to fees paid by providers.
The annual accounts report says that the organisation is already preparing for greater efficiencies. “During the year [2015/16] we laid the groundwork for the future savings required of us. This included introducing greater controls around vacancies, driving value for money out of our third party contracts and investing in systems to ensure that efficiencies are realised in our processes,” it says.
It will also be more transparent about where the money paid by service users is spent. “We continued to develop a costing model – we will use this as the baseline on which we will build our impact and value for money reporting in the future,” it promises.
The annual report also updates operators on the ratings achieved in the past year. Within the adult social care directorate, which includes care homes, two-thirds of services were rated as Good, but only 1% Outstanding.
CQC says that the majority of services that have been inspected more than once since the new policies began in November 2014 improved their overall ratings on re-inspection.