The British Medical Association has requested an urgent meeting with Chancellor Sajid Javid over scrapping the tapered annual allowance which has been causing a pension crisis in the NHS.
The BMA has repeatedly asked for the taper and the annual allowance to be removed for defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, such as the NHS Pension scheme, to ‘ensure that no doctor is penalised for going above and beyond for their patients’.
Now it is calling on the Chancellor to meet at ‘the earliest opportunity’ to discuss the plans, which it says are in line with recent suggestions made by the Treasury’s own advisory body, the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS). The Chancellor has not yet responded to the request.
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We need action. The chancellor must immediately scrap the damaging annual allowance and tapered annual allowance in defined benefit pension schemes to ensure that no doctor is penalised for going above and beyond for their patients.’
The spokesperson added that defined contribution (DC) schemes offer more flexibility than DB schemes, so the same treatment does not urgently need to be applied to them.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who won a majority in the recent general election, had already promised to ‘fix’ the tapered allowance while campaigning for the election. In its manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to hold an urgent review of the taper within the first 30 days of winning the election, and work with the BMA and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to find a new solution.
In a last-minute bid to keep staff in the NHS over the winter period, Health Secretary Matt Hancock proposed the NHS would pay tax bills handed to frontline NHS staff – a solution expected to cost hundreds of millions.
Previously, the Conservatives proposed new rules allowing senior clinicians to set their exact level of pension accrual at the start of each year.
But the BMA dismissed these proposals, stating a commitment to a review is ‘not new’ and ‘not what is needed’, while calling the proposed solutions a ‘sticking plaster’.
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