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GPC sounds warning on Hutton pension changes

By Laura Passi

The GPC has moved to reassure GPs that any changes to their pensions will not be retrospective, but has warned there would be a 'serious problem' if the Government implements the Hutton review in full.

Lord Hutton's review of public sector pensions recommended raising the age of retirement and increasing contributions. The Government accepted the findings in full, and will set out proposals to reform public sector pensions in the autumn.

The proposals have provoked widespread anger amongst GPs, and the GPC said last week they do not know yet how bad the changes will be for the profession.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman, said: 'Wherever Hutton begins, whatever happens next, there is a line drawn and everything you've got up to that point is yours, you don't loose anything ... A line is drawn and then something else happens.'

'We don't know what that "something" is but for sure, just because in the nature of politics these things happen, it won't be better than the present arrangements, it's only how much worse it can be. If the maximum Hutton changes occur, unchanged, that will be a serious problem for all public sector workers.'

Dr Buckman urged some GPs to see advice over the impact of recent changes to the tax rules, which will penalise a GP if they are very profitable or have suddenly increased their income in a year.

He said: 'It's an additional tax on a difference in your pension pot; between where you start the year and where you finish the year, if the gap is very big. If there is no appreciable gap it doesn't make any difference - you don't pay any more tax. If it's a big gap you pay tax and some people, if their pension pot increases steeply, will actually pay a very large amount.'

'An example we looked at today, was where you move from part time to full time ... instantly your pension pot increases by a huge amount. Those people will clearly be affected, except it's possible for you to roll your increment backwards over four years. In other words to make it look like you got that rise over four years.'

In order to ensure GP voices are heard whilst the Government is formulating their proposals on pensions, Pulse will deliver the 'No to 65' pensions petition to 10 Downing Street in June. The petition has already been signed by over 1,200 GPs, add your name by clicking here.

Dr Laurence Buckman Click here to sign our petition No to 65