“The Queen’s Speech has delivered a long list of priorities this new Conservative government is going to focus on, with the NHS taking a prominent role just behind Brexit. With NHS funding set to be enshrined in law, there was one glaring omission that we are still awaiting more detail on. The Tory manifesto promised an urgent review of the annual allowance taper problem afflicting doctors and their pensions within the first 30 days of government. We are now 7 days in to this new government and no sooner to hearing what they have planned to address the issue that has crippled the health service and caused doctors’ tax bills to soar. It is no use giving the NHS extra funding if there aren’t enough doctors to treat patients.
“With the Christmas period now upon us, the government is going to have to move quickly to keep to this promise. They have a short-term solution to deal with tax bills that arise in this tax year but there needs to be a long-term solution, and the sooner it is sorted the quicker the NHS can begin to return to normal. This whole situation has shown that in practice the taper has unintended consequences and it isn’t an issue that is just affecting doctors. Our research has shown the rule has also caused a number of problems for judges and members of the armed forces. The sooner the government recognises it needs to overhaul this policy the better.
“We have also seen the return of the Pensions Bill that failed to make it through parliament before the recent general election was called. Hopefully it will now see its way through the relevant processes and make the introduction of pensions dashboards appear realistic. For too long Brexit has shoved pension policy to the side line, so now we have a government with a commanding majority we hope this is just the beginning of some long overdue legislation in this space.”
On social care
“Social care made yet another appearance in a Queen’s Speech and it is yet another reason that it all feels a bit like groundhog day. There were no concrete plans except to say, yet again, the government will look at the issue urgently. Promises are two a penny and we can only hope they actually deliver a long-awaited plan on social care reform that has some clear and deliverable policies.
“In the meantime they’ve promised to help unpaid carers that are propping up the social care economy. Responding to a recent recommendation from Carers UK they have offered unpaid carers one week of leave. This is a welcome gift to carers, but it is not a remedy for the fact that two-thirds of people have cared for an elderly, ill or disabled relative and one of the reasons for this is because of an ineffective social care system. Many unpaid carers have had to sacrifice their careers and financial wellbeing to support their loved ones because it is a full time job. So while a welcome short term gift it is no replacement for the larger issues around social care and the role of unpaid carers.”