GP locums will be able to maintain access to financial support through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) until September 2021, and GP locums who joined the sector in 2019/20 will also be able to claim, according to the new Spring Budget.
In a summary of key changes, NASGP partners Legal and Medical listed:
- The Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended to September 2021 across the UK, and GP locums who filed a tax return in 2019/20 will now be able to make a claim.
- The temporary cut to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England and Northern Ireland has been extended until September.
- The lifetime allowance for pensions has been frozen at £1,073,100 until 2026.
- There were no changes made to the annual allowance, money purchase annual allowance or tapered annual allowance rules for pensions.
After the Budget was confirmed on Wednesday, the BMA warned that the frozen lifetime allowance risked creating a new exodus of experienced GPs.
Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA’s pensions committee, said: “Freezing the pension lifetime allowance is a bad decision and is creating the perfect storm – forcing an exhausted workforce – many of which are already planning to work fewer hours – to make some very tough decisions such as working less hours or leaving the NHS long before they would naturally retire.” A recent survey of BMA showed that 72% of doctors said they would be likely to retire early in the event the Government froze the lifetime allowance.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of NASGP, said: “This is fantastic news about SEISS that I hope will reassure many locums in continuing offering flexible support to practices.
However, this is heavily countered by the freeze in lifetime allowance. It will be even more difficult for GP locums to plan their annual workload so that they don’t breach their lifetime allowance, and will undoubtedly lead to a drop in GP numbers. This change makes it even more important for GP locums to get expert advice from a specialist medical accountant and an independent financial advisor.”
Liz Densley, specialist medical accountant at Honey Barrett, said: “The continuation of the SEISS with a fourth and fifth grant is great news. It is particularly welcome for those GPs who only started self-employment after 2018-19, who will now be able to claim if they meet the criteria. I hope many more of my clients will be able to access the support that they need.
“The freezing of the lifetime allowance is a disappointment, and I think more NHS Pension Scheme members will be caught here. However, the news could well have been worse – for example, if higher rate relief had been removed from contributions.
“We’ll continue to work with our clients, together with their IFAs, to help them understand what this means for them and what actions they can take.”