The surplus “is a positive step towards… a financially stable organisation that can effectively fund the cost of regulation”, the GPhC said in its most recent council meeting papers, published ahead of its meeting tomorrow (September 17).
Among the reasons for the underspend were fewer fitness to practise hearing days, as well as fewer training or accreditation events taking place, the GPhC said.
The regulator also cited a reduction in legal costs due to fewer cases being sent to law firm panels and contained IT costs as a result of carrying out more work internally, plus savings due to a “move to cloud-based services”.
The GPhC also forecast a surplus of £300,000 for its 2020-21 budget as a result of a projected income fall of £500,000, which it estimated would be offset by a £800,000 drop in expenditure after interest and tax.
Due to the "unprecedented impact” of COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions, the GPhC has had to reduce, cancel or postpone “several operational activities” according to the council papers. This has affected income and expenditure and is the key factor behind the predicted surplus, the regulator said.
The GPhC reported a small reduction in income between June-April this year, which it said was “predominantly due” to its decision to postpone the June registration exam due to COVID-19 restrictions.
On March 26, the GPhC and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland announced their decision to postpone the 2020 registration assessments due to COVID-19. The GPhC’s registration assessment will take place online towards the end of this year or early in 2021, the regulator said at the time of the announcement.
On March 17, the GPhC stopped all routine inspections due to COVID-19, although intelligence-led inspections to assess any perceived risks to patient safety continued.