Doctors' leaders set for talks with Treasury as pension tax review begins

BMA officials are set to meet with the economic secretary to the Treasury as the government carries out a promised review into the NHS pension tax crisis.

BMA pensions committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma revealed this week that the Treasury had confirmed a review had begun into the tax trap that has forced thousands of doctors to reduce their working hours or refuse extra shifts to avoid financial penalties.

He said the BMA was due to meet 'shortly' with economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen - and confirmed that findings of the review would be 'announced in the upcoming budget on 11 March'.

In a blog published on the BMA website this week, Dr Sharma wrote: 'Our destination remains unchanged - removal of the annual allowance in defined benefit schemes. This is the only effective long-term solution and this suggestion is echoed by the Treasury’s own advisory body the Office for Tax Simplification.'

NHS pensions

He said the BMA was determined to see reforms in place for the start of the next tax year - from April 2020.

Ahead of the 12 December general election, the Conservatives promised an urgent review of pension tax rules within 30 days if elected. The party's manifesto promised to 'address the "taper problem" in doctors’ pensions, which causes many to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills'.

NHS England announced in November that it would pay off doctors' pension tax bills for 2019/20 in a bid to encourage doctors to take on extra shifts ahead of winter.

The BMA has backed the stop-gap plan but has called for additional guarantees over how the proposal will benefit GPs.

In his blog this week Dr Sharma said of the pension tax crisis: 'This is not an issue affecting the occasional clinician, the effects are widespread, affecting the majority of clinicians in every hospital, primary care doctors in all UK geographies, our armed forces and also our universities – anywhere doctors work, that provision is being undermined by the UK pensions system.

'As we enter 2020, we hope we hope we have reached the final leg of this journey.'

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