Health tax break may lead to IAS monopoly

Concerns have been raised by occupational medicine doctors about Government plans to offer a tax break to employers that spend money on health interventions.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that the lure of the tax break of up to £500, unveiled by the Government in the Budget in the spring, risked employees not being referred to the most appropriate service or support.

The association, in its response to the consultation on the Government’s plans, expressed concern about the fact the tax break will be available only on interventions recommended by the Government’s proposed health and work assessment and advisory service, or independent assessment service (IAS).

BMA OH committee chair Paul Nicholson said that this seemed to be encouraging a monopoly that favoured the IAS.

“The proposed tax exemption is very likely to encourage employers to refer staff to the IAS, which may not necessarily be the most competent local service,” he said.

“The advisory service is not a substitute for a comprehensive occupational health service that includes risk assessment and risk management. [If this service is] subsidised, it might dissuade employers from investing in, employing or contracting a comprehensive occupational health service.”

The Government is expected to publish a summary of the responses to the consultation during the autumn, with draft legislation expected to be drawn up before next year’s Budget.

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