Calls grow for NHS scheme pays window to be scrapped amid Covid pressures

Industry experts have called for the NHS scheme pays deadline for members who have breached the annual allowance to be scrapped, amid concerns that some GPs may not be able to properly evaluate their liability until after the deadline.

A freedom of information request from Quilter revealed that the majority (72 per cent) of NHS pension scheme members who exceeded the standard annual allowance in 2019/20 have opted for their scheme to pay their annual allowance tax bill.

However, 28 per cent of NHS staff who have breached the standard annual allowance in 2019/20 have not elected for scheme pays.

Quilter also warned that, “more worryingly”, there is an unknown number of GPs who have not completed the administration, who will be subject to annual allowance charges caused by the tapered annual allowance.

GPs in England and Wales who wish to claim pension tax compensation under the scheme need to submit a ‘scheme pays’ election to NHS Pensions before sending in an annual allowance compensation policy claim form by 11 February 2022.

However, Quilter NHS pensions expert, Graham Crossley, warned that there is "a big risk that lots of GPs will not have completed the necessary paperwork to take advantage of the annual allowance compensation policy and will ultimately suffer large tax bills that they will have to foot themselves".

He continued: “With the NHS stretched, it is proving to be an incredibly busy time for GPs and understandably filling out complicated pension paperwork can prove tricky.

"To add insult to injury many GPs have not been issued the right information yet that enables them to work out if they even have an annual allowance charge for 2019/20.

“While the pandemic, at least in the UK, seems to be subsiding there is still significant pressure on medical services.

"There is no valid reason for any deadline to be imposed for the annual allowance compensation policy and we call for this deadline to be scrapped to allow GPs to get their paperwork in order.”

Similar concerns were also raised around the scheme pays deadline in 2021, with the government urged to extend the scheme pays deadline to allow members to make a scheme pays election within a four-year timeframe.

The government has also recently faced calls to extend temporary tax changes for public sector key workers beyond March 2022 or face an “NHS exodus”, after a freedom of information request revealed that 7,470 staff could be at risk of a pension penalty.

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