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ARF by instalments: Needed change, and not before time

23 March 2021


The British Dental Association has celebrated the move by the General Dental Council to finally accept payment for the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) by instalments, after many years of campaigning.


A single annual payment – currently £680 for dentists and £114 for dental care professionals – has been required by December 31 and 31 July respectively each year. The BDA has long been concerned that the approach has represented a barrier for registrants, particularly those at the outset of their careers, with a large fee due when they leave dental school followed by the full annual cost a few months later at a time of year where many already experience significant financial pressure.


The change will mean quarterly Direct Debits of £170 for dentists, and £28.50 for DCPs, for those wishing to use the new arrangements.


The GDC had previously argued that the move was impossible under its current legal framework, or that it might be too costly to be workable. The BDA has continued to emphasise the need for change and has welcomed the willingness to take this step among the current Council.


Shareena Ilyas, Chair of the British Dental Association's Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group said:


"The ability to pay by instalments is one of the basics any registrant should expect from their regulator. This represents much needed change from the GDC, and not before time.


"A single large annual payment has proved a real barrier for many dentists, particularly those just starting out. We were told change was impossible and we only got here by refusing to take no for an answer.


"This is good news that so many have long hoped for, and we await details on how the system will operate."