This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

A quarter of GP pension records contain up-to-date information, reveals NHS

Only one in four GP pension records for 2017/18 are up to date, which could leave GPs with unexpected tax bills, experts have warned. 

NHS Services Business Authority (NHS BSA) revealed that just 26% of pension records for GPs in England - which are the responsibility of Primary Care Services England, run by Capita - had been updated as of 31 March 2018.

The revelation was made following a freedom of information (FOI) request made to NHS BSA by financial services company Quilter.

The BMA denounced the bureaucratic delays, saying the lack of information was putting GPs at higher risk of unexpected tax charges on pensions at a time when some are already cutting their hours. 

When asked how many GP records were incomplete for 2017/18, NHSBSA said it currently holds 42,451 'active practitioner records' in England, of which a quarter (11,232) 'are updated to 31 March 2018'. 

The deadline for electing for 'scheme pays' for 2017/18 - which allows GPs to pay their tax bills out of their final pensions instead of paying up-front - has not yet passed, but pensions tax experts warn that many GPs will face unexpected bills, which will cause confusion. 

A spokesperson for Quilter said: ‘NHS is very behind on record keeping of their pension schemes so many GPs will not have received an annual allowance statement for 2017/18 which should’ve been issued in October 2018.

‘What’s particularly worrying is that 2017/18 was a particularly bad year for GPs according to our advisers that are experts in the scheme so there could be a significant amount of GPs that don’t know they have an annual allowance charge for 17/18.

‘When annual allowance statements go out late like this, they cause confusion on how the member can settle their tax charge.

‘For example, this happened for 2016/17. Doctors were told they could get the scheme to pay their annual allowance as long as they get an application before 31 July 2018, but the letters were sent out after this date. 

‘Some members will therefore assume that they can’t use scheme pays and take out mortgages etc to settle the debt. However, if the member wrote to the annual allowance team, they could still elect for scheme.’

Pulse has long reported how GPs have been affected by delays in updating their pensions pot records ever since PCSE took over the responsibility on behalf of NHS England. 

It comes at the same time as the Government is carrying out a review of pensions and annual tax-free allowance rules, which are currently causing high-earning doctors to reduce their shifts in a bit to avoid charges for breaching the allowance.

Reports have suggested the Treasury will raise the threshold income at which high earners see their tax-free allowance tapered.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said Capita's failure to update pensions records means GPs might be left out of pocket because they may be unaware that they have breached their annual tax-free allowance on contributions.

He said: 'It is a disgrace that bureaucratic delays are preventing so many GPs from accessing vital pension statements.

'Quite simply, the body tasked with issuing these statements, the NHSBSA, is woefully under-resourced and unable to cope, while the involvement of Capita's PCSE, which has a history of failure, just makes matters worse.'

He added: 'The current pensions tax system is already far too complicated and opaque, however, without access to these statements family doctors will be completely blind to potentially huge tax charges.

'Ultimately these failures only serve to exacerbate the wider pensions tax fiasco which has resulted in some doctors effectively having to pay to go to work.'

A Capita spokesperson said: 'PCSE is working closely with NHS BSA and other partners to improve the clarity around pensions for GPs. Currently pensions forms can sometimes be filled in incorrectly or with data missing. PCSE will always work with GPs to correct these issues and help ensure their records are complete.

'This year PCSE will launch a new service enabling GPs to submit their pensions certificates online. This will make the process more efficient, give GPs additional time to gather missing information and greater assurance that they have submitted all the required details by the deadline.'

Readers' comments (25)

  • So BMA what are you going to do about it??
    Writing a little article seems ineffectual at best.
    Your members are actively losing large sums of money and this is the best you can do?
    This is why you won't get my money nor will I be a pension scheme member after losing large sums of money to this exact problem.
    Perhaps taking these institutions to court might give you some credibility.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • From my own experience PCSE are beyond incompetent....their default position/excuse when you ask them why your pension data hasn’t been processed and passed to NHS BSA is because your forms haven’t been submitted i.e blaming accountants and practice managers. The only way to get anywhere with them is to complain and complain repeatedly and loudly.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • And even complaining loudly gets you nowhere. Even my MP couldn’t get an answer from Fleetwood and was “appalled we treat people so badly”. Another reason I left the UK.

    GP Pensions. It’s the NHS in microcosm; let it collapse.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My pension statement was completely blank for the last 15 years. It was only through complaining about 12 times that I am finally getting it resolved.
    Its a total disgrace

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I've been trying to close down 5 open employments made up by PCSE for the last 3 mnths. Apparently it's on urgent priority (and has been made so at least 3 times). I ring weekly to chase it up and am just getting no-where. They haven't even reached the stage of confirming with me that they are looking into it! Without closing these down (I've only ever had 1 employer at a time, they keep reopening an old employer the day after they close it!) NHS pensions say they cannot update my pension information as they are waiting for information for all 5 open employments. PCSE say this is a NHS pension problem, NHS pension say it is a PCSE problem.
    I am tearing my hair out. I have NEVER had a pension statement in my 15yrs of working for the NHS. I got one when I requested one under the freedom of information (how ridiculous) and what was sent was utter gobbledegook.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Glad not to be a member of the NHS pension scheme, investing in a SIPP instead which can be accessed 10 years before the state pension age, total transparency, tax deductible contributions, and zero input from Crapita.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I echo all the comments above. I tried 12 months ago to get a pension statement so I could reconcile it with my own records. Some 20+ calls to PCSE and NHS Pensions later still have not got it, initially being told my record missing one year's return (which accountant has confirmation of receipt), subsequently 2 other years missing - turned out they had them under the same ref number.

    After all that, was told that if I want a statement I have to request it IN WRITING and will take 6 weeks+.
    Needless to say nothing available on the Total Rewards Statement wbsite.

    I have been telling all the GPs I know that they should be requesting a statement as I cannot be the only person whose account has been completely mismanaged.

    Oh, and by the way, the same day I called Aviva for a statement of another pension I have from a previous employment, arrived by email the same day.

    I shall now be requesting a statement every 12 months on the dot so cannot get to the same situation again.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How can a company allow 75% of records to be out of date and maintain its contract. It utterly is beyond complete incompetence. My pension hasn’t been updated for years PCSE are utterly useless. Capita has to go and be banned from holding any government contracts going forward

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • “Currently pensions forms can sometimes be filled in incorrectly or with data missing. ”

    Or you just put the paper forms in a side room and ignored them five years.

    Surely there are grounds for compensation here? I would have changed my pension arrangements and avoided this tax if I had received notifications of AA breaches a few years ago.
    Instead it took me 12 months to get capita and nhsbsa to sort things out, and I now have a £50k tax bill.
    Who allows PCSE’s contract to continue. Is someone being paid off?!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Glad to have left the nhs pension crapita ponzi scheme ages ago. Won’t be dumb enough to put my hard earned cash in the pocket of the government

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say