Helm News: Tax relief on health benefits
The Chancellor’s announcement of some tax relief on health-related interventions is welcome. But, at the same time, it also feel likes a missed opportunity. At Bupa, we’d like to see him go even further and remove all tax disincentives to help promote all workplace-health improvement schemes, particularly in smaller companies.
The research in our report, Getting Britain Fit for the Recovery (www.bupa.com/getbritainfit), found that if the current taxes on workplace health were removed, SMEs would see productivity gains of £282million a year; while larger business would also see significant gains totalling £160million.
This overall productivity gain of £443million per year for UK business would save the economy far more money than the tax it brings in to the Treasury.
The exact details of the Chancellor’s proposals are a bit hazy at the moment, but we are concerned that it could hide an unintended problem. Mr Osborne’s intention to adopt a low financial limit may actually create a new disincentive through increased compliance costs, making schemes more costly for employers to create and monitor. That’s because companies would need to be able to identify cases qualifying for this new exemption and monitor spending on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the tax-free limit is not breached and they find themselves in trouble with HMRC.
In addition to tax implications, one of the main concerns for businesses when considering whether to provide workplace health services is their overall cost. To address this, we’ve launched Bupa Business Health Solutions, which provides affordable options to help business to provide their entire workforce with high quality, good value healthcare.
Businesses can select from options which offer faster diagnosis, comprehensive cover for treatment following an NHS diagnosis, or combined care where some treatment is through the NHS. The products also offer options that provide access to telephone helplines and other employee assistance programmes.
Encouraging firms of all sizes to offer wellness and health prevention schemes to their people is a win-win for everyone: it benefits individuals’ health, companies’ profits, and the country’s finances.
We will be looking for every opportunity to engage in the consultation process and highlight these long-term benefits to the Government.
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The information in this article does not constitute advice and should be used for informational purposes only.