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GPs go forth

Government's review of doctors' pension tax allowance begins

The Government’s review of doctors' pensions is underway, with the findings due to be announced in March when the details of national spending are laid out in the budget.

The BMA confirmed yesterday that it had been invited to talks as part of the review, which will be led by the Chancellor's economic secretary, John Glen.

Ahead of the election on 12 December, the Conservative party pledged it would begin a review of pensions arrangements within 30 days of the new government.

It said the 'urgent' review would deal with the pensions annual allowance taper problem, which has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills.

In a blog published yesterday, BMA pensions committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma said the BMA had been told by the Treasury that the review had started and its findings would be delivered in the budget on 11 March.

Dr Sharma said: 'We have now received confirmation from the Chancellor that the review is underway, led by the economic secretary. The BMA will be meeting with him shortly.

'The outcome of this review will be announced in the upcoming budget on 11 March and the BMA are clear that the necessary reforms need to be in place for the start of the next tax year.'

Over the winter, GPs and other doctors' pension tax charges are being paid for by the NHS, under stop-gap proposals approved by the health secretary in November.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the plans meant clinicians were 'immediately able to take on additional shifts or sessions without worrying about an annual allowance charge on their pensions'.

Earlier on in the year, the Government had announced plans to allow GPs to choose their own percentage of pension contributions, in a new ‘flexible’ approach, due to come in from April.

This replaced its previous 50:50 proposal to deal with the high tax charge problem - which suggested doctors and employers halve what they put into their pension pots, but went on to be scrapped.

However, throughout the proposal announcements, the BMA has argued these have only offered 'short term relief' and that the root of the problem is the annual and lifetime limit placed on the tax-free pensions allowance - and rules around tapering the allowance for the highest earners. 

Readers' comments (16)

  • Far too little far too late and suspect a similar perspective from my colleagues.

    Started as GP 8/92 and stayed with same small practice with personal lists through thick and thin but the last few days are absolute comedy gold.

    Just reinforced my thinking regarding already made right decision and in 90 minutes time will be 1 week more ticked off!

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  • This is the main issue pushing slightly older GPS out the door.
    I could have 17 years left as a NHS gp, but the UP tax situation is so ridiculous early retirement with the occasional locum looks good.
    Why work hard as a partner under the current regime? I feel guilty letting my colleagues down, and feel sorry for the patients who are now reaping the rewards of incredibly poor forward workforce and financial planning by successive governments.
    My solution would be that like taking % rate planning out of direct political control the government needs to remove the NHS from short term politics. Set the NHS spend an agreed percentage of the GDP, and leave it alone with only an independent board to liaise with the politicians. If/when there is a gap between patient expectations and funding then the patient needs to contribute to their care to an agreed limit. A bit like the prescription charge but fairer. If the economy takes off then the nhs will stay free at the point of use and improve in quality...
    Yes I realise this won't happen in the UK and anyone who can will just go private which will make the whole country even more inequitable than the proposal above.
    Oh well I am sure the March budget will solve everything.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    The BMA is involved..... oh dear!

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  • The BMA and the RCGP have exercised their reverse Midas touch on the NHS and GP land they are doing it again.Its going to get more brown and smelly down here on the front line comrades.

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  • doctordog.

    Return lifetime pension allowances back to 1.5 million.
    The reduction to 1.25 then 1.055 million is the only thing which pushed me into a drastic session reduction.

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  • £50k tax bill that would have been avoidable if Capita/PCSE didn’t not pay my contributions from 2015 onwards, requiring a year to sort out. Grrrr.
    Never going to rejoin this NHS pension ponzi.

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  • I had the same tax issue with Pcse not registering contributions when taken in different tax years.

    Never rejoining x2

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  • The health secretary has found his extra 5000 gps by 2020. An extra 5000 gps retired early due to pension taxes!
    It seems penal tax rates are a disincentive to work and a detriment to society. Sin taxes are popular these days. Is the NHS a sin?
    Let us go back to the future. Say 15 years. No penal pension taxes. No doctor strike or encouraged early retirement or part time working.

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  • if we had been in unite for a union, for example, we would have been on strike and had our benefits re instated years ago. time for a union change for GPs. The BMA is not GP friendly. we need our own union that represents us, works for us and not for the government.

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  • Too little too late. The trust is gone from this ponzi scheme and one sided contract.

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