Freeze on pension lifetime allowance would have serious impact on medical workforce, warns BMA

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 27 February 2021

The BMA is calling for an urgent joint meeting with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State Matt Hancock ahead of next week’s Budget amid fears that a freeze on the pension Lifetime Allowance, as reported in the media, would have a grave impact on the medical workforce.

In starkly worded letters to the Chancellor and Secretary of State today1, the doctors’ trade union raises fears that the move will leave many experienced doctors with no choice but to reduce the amount of work they do for the NHS or leave it entirely. This at a time when the NHS will be facing up to an unprecedented backlog of patients owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent media reports have suggested that Mr Sunak is drawing up plans for a freeze on the lifetime allowance at the Budget on March 3, meaning many senior doctors will be hit by punitive high tax rates from an even younger age.

In the letter, Dr Vish Sharma, BMA Pensions Committee Chair, writes: “Both the available Annual Allowance and Lifetime Allowance – including its annual indexed linked increase - are carefully considered by senior NHS workers when determining their working patterns for the following year and ultimately their retirement plans.”

A previous BMA survey of 6,170 GP and hospital doctors in 2019 revealed that 31% had reduced their hours due solely to pension tax charges, and 57% were considering retiring early for the same reason.

Dr Sharma goes on to explain: “The NHS faces an extremely challenging period for the foreseeable future as it desperately tries to ensure that those patients whose care has been impacted by COVID-19 can receive the high-quality care that they deserve.”

Dr Sharma adds: “We are deeply concerned that if you press ahead with this policy, this will result in large numbers of doctors retiring early or working less than full time, at the very time our patients need them the most.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

1. Letter to Secretary of State regarding Lifetime Allowance.

2. Letter to Chancellor regarding Lifetime Allowance.