Pensions General practitioner General Practitioners Committee

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Sessional GPs guidance on NHS pensions and Capita

Since Capita took over the pensions contract in November 2015, it had been supported by a team from NHSE (NHS England) to help deliver the contract. NHSE made the decision to withdraw that support in January 2018.

This has brought unease as to how the service will continue and whether Capita will be able to deliver. This guidance aims to address the main questions that sessional GPs have raised.

This information was updated by the BMA sessional GPs committee in January 2019 following meetings with Capita (PCSE) and NHS England.

  • Bank details

    The bank details for sending pension contributions have not changed and you can continue to use those you have used for previous months/years. They remain absent from the website, however, partly due to a security concern from NHSE and partly due to unallocated cash in its bank account.

    NHSE has advised that rather than give these details on the website, they would rather keep control over who has them, so the current approach will continue: individuals who do not know the bank details should contact PCSE either by phone or its online form.

    This raises concerns over how much of the unallocated cash is sessional GPs’ pension money. The BMA has stated previously that ‘there is no risk to your pension’, but this statement caused some confusion. To clarify, we have had guarantees from NHSE that no individual will be disadvantaged due to the processing of their pension, ie that funds paid to your pension are safe even if they have not been processed correctly yet.

    We recommend keeping a copy of all forms and money that you send to PCSE in case you need to provide evidence in future.

  • Emailed forms

    On 20 December 2017, PCSE went live with its online enquires form for all submissions, and is now accepting forms only through that channel or by post. The BMA first became aware of this in early December. We were not consulted and get the impression NHS Pensions was not either.

    We had previously raised concerns that their guidance notes advised that submissions could only be done from an NHS.net email account, yet many locums still do not have access to one. After much persistence, Capita (PCSE) have now changed their guidance notes to state: 'You will need to enter your email address when prompted (NHS.net email accounts are preferred)'. We can assure you that an NHS.net email address is not required, but preferred.

    When submitting your monies please use the reference number of your SD number, followed by LOC for locum work or SOL for SOLO work, followed by the month in the three characters and finally the year in two characters. 

  • Unallocated funds

    As mentioned above, these funds remain ring-fenced until they can be allocated to individuals.

    The easiest way to identify unallocated funds would be if individuals were to receive a statement of their pensionable earnings and a statement of contributions for each year, then members would be able to detect if any money was missing from their pension record and PCSE could begin the process of having it allocated.

    We are pushing for this harder than ever and now feel there is recognition from NHSE that this is a necessary step. NHSE continues to agree it is about doing the right thing for sessional GPs.

  • No mechanism of receipt

    Currently, there is no mechanism of receipt of:

    a. Locum A and B forms and payment
    b. SOLO forms
    c. Type 2 annual self-assessment forms
    d. Appraisers pension contributions (via Locum A/B forms or SOLO forms).

    Since the launch of the PCSE online enquiries form there should be a case reference number automatically generated for your submission. This was a small step in the right direction, but we did not believe it was sufficient. It was not a receipt that our records held by PCSE or NHS Pensions had been updated.

    Capita (PCSE) have now advised that individuals should start receiving an email receipt with values and to which month the contributions relate for locum work. There are standardised templates that Capita (PCSE) will now use.

    There is a difference between PCSE records being updated and the records held by NHS Pensions.

    As an example, for the year ending 31 March 2017, PCSE will submit its records to NHS Pensions around April/May 2018. This is in line with the requirement for Type 1 and Type 2 practitioners and their forms.

    NHS Pensions will then update its records, which will be visible on the total reward statements (TRS) in August 2018 – 18 months after the pension year end of 31 March 2017.

    For further clarity, NHSE holds the money, PCSE only processes it and updates NHS Pensions. PCSE does not have access to the funds.

  • Total rewards statement (TRS)

    The TRS is an online record of your Practitioner Pensionable pay and benefits.

    There is a difference between PCSE records being updated and the records held by NHS Pensions.

    As an example, for the year ending 31 March 2017, PCSE will submit its records to NHS Pensions around April/May 2018. This is in line with the requirement for Type 1 and Type 2 practitioners and their forms. NHS Pensions will then update its records, which will be visible on the total reward statements in August 2018 - 18 months after the pension year end of 31 March 2017.

    For further clarity, NHSE holds the money, PCSE only processes it and updates NHS Pensions. PCSE does not have access to the funds.

    Therefore at any given time your TRS statement (if available) will be at least 18 months in arrears.

    To further clarify, if the TRS is not updated, it does not mean that your pension record is not.

    There are a number of reasons why a record may not be updated, for example the cut-off date for Capita (PCSE) to send data to NHS Pensions was in April 2018. If Capita (PCSE) had received anything after this they will not be able to upload the data. Another example: the system requires data for sequential years so for instance, if there is data missing for one year, no subsequent years will show.  

    There is work happening to look at these issues to better understand how to resolve them.

  • Contacting Capita

    All queries are now to be submitted via PCSE online.

    We are not convinced that all historic queries have been resolved; we have heard that a number of individuals received emails to say their query had been resolved when they had not. In our last meeting, Capita (PCSE) recognised that the closing and re-opening of cases has not been beneficial for all involved. As a result, they will now not close cases until issues are resolved.

    We recommend resubmitting your query – you will now have an automatic reference number that will allow you to follow it up.

    If your query needs escalating please contact first point of contact (FPC) at the BMA.

    The BMA pensions team and the sessionals subcommittee have negotiated access to a specific team that is dealing with all the queries that members have asked us to resolve on their behalf. We have been successful in resolving hundreds of complicated queries. 

  • Type 2 annual self-assessment

    A Type 2 form is a mechanism for NHS Pensions to ensure that you have paid the correct pension contribution tier across all your practitioner roles. Officer roles are not taken into account.

    This is a legal requirement of the NHS pension scheme for Type 2 GPs. Many sessional GPs are unaware of the requirement to complete these forms.

     

    Who should complete the form?

    A Type 2 GP is:

    • A salaried GPs formally employed by a GP surgery, APMS contractor, or an LHB (Wales)
    • A long-term fee-based/self-employed GP who works for a GP surgery, APMS contractor, or an LHB for a period of, generally, six months or more may choose to be regarded as a Type 2 GP. Choosing to be regarded as a Type 2 GP after an initial period of locum work at a practice will render you subject to annualising but will also mean that 100% of your income is pensionable and that your life cover provision is improved. Alternatively, NHSBSA have agreed that it is possible to continue completing locum forms A and B beyond a period of six months continuous work with one practice. If this is chosen and locum work is undertaken exclusively for a scheme year then a Type 2 certificate is not required. 
    • A GP who works solely OOH either on an employed or self-employed basis.

    Essentially, if you are not a Type 1 GP (principal) or solely a locum, you are likely to be a Type 2 GP.

    If you do not complete the form, there is no risk to your pension, but your pension record may not be updated.


    When should I complete the form?

    The deadline is 28 February each year – 11 months after the previous pension year end of 31 March.

    This year, due to technical problems experienced by those completing the Type 2 form, there will be no punitive action taken by NHSBSA (NHS Business Services Authority) for those who miss the deadline. The errors on the form are currently being updated and any queries should be sent to [email protected]

    The TRS is then updated, usually once a year in August – effectively 18 months after the pension year end.

    For example, for the year ending 31 March 2017, the Type 2 form will need to be submitted by 28 February 2018 and the TRS will be updated in August 2018. (Last year, however, NHS Pensions decided to do a second update to TRS on 13 December 2017.)

  • Annualisation

    In the 1995/2008 NHS pension scheme, there is an officer scheme and a practitioner scheme. In the officer scheme, an individual’s tier is based on their whole-time equivalent (WTE) income. A practitioner's tier is based on actual earnings. The Government has tried to apply this WTE rule to practitioners in the 2015 scheme, but the regulations are extremely complicated.

    Essentially, this regulation means that certain members – those who have transitioned to the 2015 scheme and who have taken breaks within the pension scheme year – may have to tier their pension contributions at a higher rate based on their annualised earnings, rather than their actual earnings.

    Further to the agreement not to penalise anyone who returns the Type 2 certificate late, the Department for Health and Social Care has agreed that annualising should not apply (in relation to the completion of the 2016/17 Type 2 certificate) to long-term locums who have worked beyond six months in one practice and were previously deemed to be locums for the first six months and type 2 GPs thereafter. If you have been required to annualise your earning due to this rule alone, you can resubmit your form and your contribution tier will be corrected and any overpayment repaid to you. Read the statement from NHS pensions.

    If you are in the 1995 or 2008 scheme you do not have to annualise your pensionable earnings – the tier you pay is based on your practitioner earnings. Having raised this as a concern the Type 2 form has been updated to include a tab for these members.

     

    Annualising from 1 April 2019

    When the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) advised that the method of calculating ‘annualised income’ should change from ‘annualise then add’ to ‘add then annualise’ they advised that the concessions regarding breaks in service would be removed.  This was with immediate effect with regards to the 1- month concession for Type 1 and 2 GPs.  However, for locums the 3- month break concession was retained until 31 March 2019, after which the concession was removed.

    From 1 April 2019 any break in pensionable service, for any type of GP, will be required to be taken into account when calculating annualised income in order to arrive at your pension tier.

    We have delayed releasing our guidance as NHS Pensions have not responded to our queries.  This remains to be the case and the guidance we offer below is based on our understanding of the regulations.

    In practical terms this means that annualising will work as follows:

    • A full or part-time Type 1 GP who has an underlying contract from 1 April to 31 March in any given year can undertake any additional GP work (SOLO, Type 2, locum) and their total actual pensionable income will be equal to their annualised income. In this example the method of annualising will be total actual pensionable income x 365/365 because they have been under contract for 365 days.
    • A full or part-time Type 2 GP who has an underlying contract of employment from 1 April to 31 March in any given year can undertake any additional GP work (SOLO, locum) and their total actual pensionable income will be equal to their annualised income. In this example the method of annualising will be total actual pensionable income x 365/365 because they have been under contract for 365 days.
    • A Type 1 GP who does not have an underlying contract for the full year from 1 April to 31 March will need to total the number of days during which they undertook pensionable employment during the scheme year. If any other type of GP pensionable work was undertaken outside of the contract period, this needs to be added to arrive at their total number of pensionable days worked. Annualised income will then be arrived at by multiplying total GP pensionable income x365/ number of days of pensionable service.
    • A Type 2 GP who does not have an underlying contract of employment for the full year from 1 April to 31 March will need to total the number of days during which they undertook pensionable employment during the scheme year. If any other type of GP pensionable work was undertaken outside of the contract period, this needs to be added to arrive at their total number of pensionable days worked. Annualised income will then be arrived at by multiplying total GP pensionable income x 365 / number of days of pensionable service.
    • A GP who exclusively locums will need to add the total number of days they have worked. In this example the method of annualising will be total actual pensionable income x 365/number of days worked.  

      If, for example, a locum is engaged by a practice from 1 April to 30 September to work one day a week and then continues beyond six months at that same practice their annualising will depend on whether they choose to continue to be treated as a locum or to be treated as a Type 2 GP beyond the six month period.

      If they choose to have all the work pensioned via locum forms A and B then their annualised income is arrived at by multiplying their pensionable GP locum income by 365 and dividing by 52 (days worked as a locum).

      If they choose to pension the first 6 months via locum forms A and B and the latter as per the Type 2 salaried GP method then they will multiply their pensionable GP locum income by 365 and divide by 208 (26 days worked as locum and 182 days treated as though under a contract of employment as a Type 2 GP (albeit that the locum continues to work 1 day a week for the second 6 month period). 
    • Any GP who also undertakes officer pensionable work alongside will have the contribution for officer work determined separately and based on the Whole-Time Equivalent for the officer work undertaken.  Income from officer pensionable work should not be included when calculating the GP tier. 

     

    SOLO forms and number of days worked

    NHSBSA have suggested that any SOLO pensionable work is treated as underlying pensionable work for the full scheme year. This is because the SOLO form is completed for the period 1 April to 31 March. This implies that if an exclusive locum were able to undertake even one day of SOLO pensionable work then for the purposes of annualising they could detail 365 days worked in the scheme. As NHSBSA have so far failed to engage further on this matter we would suggest that you contact them directly to confirm the position on the SOLO form and then complete your Type 2 certificate accordingly. The harsh impact of annualising may be avoided in this way. 

    We understand that NHS Pensions have also advised that appraisal work could detail the number of days worked on that appraisal, rather than as the one day of the appraisal.  

    Similarly, we understand that NHS Pensions have also advised that any locum work could detail the number of days worked on administration or follow up tasks, rather than as the actual day of work at the practice.  

    Again, we would suggest confirmation of this directly with NHSBSA and then completion of the Type 2 form accordingly.

    The impact of annualising may be significantly reduced should NHSBSA formally confirm this guidance.

     

    The locum 10 week rule

    The 10 week rule is the time limit by which pension forms should be submitted by locums. The 10 week rule begins at the end of any period of engagement with a practice.

     

    Employer contributions

    Whilst the employer contribution tier has increased 14.38% to 20.68%, for 2019/20 locums should continue to request only the 14.38% employer contribution as the balance will be made up directly by HM Treasury. 

    Read the NHSBSA guidance 

     

    Your queries

    We still have unanswered questions about these unfair regulations, and NHS Pensions’ responses are unclear on how they are being applied. Until we receive clarification, we suggest directing all queries about annualisation to NHSBSA, which administers the scheme: [email protected]

    For other pension queries, please contact the BMA pensions team: [email protected]

    We are currently in the process of seeking legal opinions on the options available to us to challenge these regulations. 

    Read the BMA's latest previous statement regarding annualisation

     
  • Locum guidance on pension annualisation

    The BMA has sought clarity from NHS Business Service Authority on the area of 'annualising' – the method for working out pension contributions - for sessional GPs who are members of the 2015 career average revalued earnings scheme.

    We can now confirm that those freelance GP locums that work NHS pensionable out of hours work (or SOLO work) will be afforded type 2 medical practitioner status in respect of working for the out of hours (OOH) provider – in accordance with NHS Pension Scheme rules.

    As a result, this will lead to those GP locums having annualised income equal to actual pensionable income, as they will be considered in the scheme 365 days of the year. This may then lead to a reduction in employee contribution rates for locums.

    More information on how this works in detail, and how it could affect you as a locum GP, is set out below.

     

    What this means for you

    If a locum GP works out of hours and is afforded type 2 medical practitioner status, this means they will have two concurrent pensionable posts; type 2 medical practitioner and freelance GP locum. 

    Where the GP has a contract for services with the OOHs provider, which is continuously in place for the whole scheme year (1 April to 31 March), they are afforded type 2 medical practitioner status throughout the year, meaning they have been in the scheme for 365 days for annualising purposes.  

    It is important to stress that the frequency of the OOHs work undertaken is not important, so long as some pensionable work has been undertaken. The OOHs provider may use the SOLO form or any other locally agreed method to inform NHS England/PCSE or the Local Health Board in Wales of the pensionable work.

    This means that although 2015 scheme freelance GP locums (who are also type 2 medical practitioners) are subject to annualising, if they are in pensionable service as a type 2 medical practitioner for the whole scheme year (1 April to 31 March), their total actual pensionable income will be multiplied against the formula of 365/365 to arrive at their annualised earnings. Total actual pensionable earnings will therefore be equal to annualised earnings.

    Undertaking such SOLO work will mean that a type 2 certificate needs to be completed annually by 28 February each year.

     

    Death in service

    Any freelance GP locum who has a concurrent type 1 or 2 medical practitioner pensionable post also has continuous NHS Pension Scheme life assurance cover (including ‘death in service’) regardless of if death occurs on a non-working day as a freelance GP locum.

    The BMA will continue to lobby to change the annualising mechanism for the 2015 scheme, which applies to all GPs, and will be shortly responding on this in the wider current consultation on pension flexibilities.

    Any BMA members who have questions in this area, please contact the BMA pensions team ([email protected]). 

  • Further reading

    Deputy chair of the sessional GP subcommittee, Krishan Aggarwal has written a series of blogs highlighting the impact of this issue.

    Capita and the NHS pension fiasco - what is going on?

    ...Part 2

    ...Part 4

    ...Part 5

    ...Part 6

    ...Part 7

    ...Part 8

    ...Part 10

    Pensions, where are we?

    Type 2 Forms and Annualisation – ARRGGGHHHH!

    Have you been affected by annualisation?