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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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Widening Access Training Schemes

Published: 09/01/2018

 A number of staff have contacted the Trust to express disappointment at the decision that their training course does not meet the criteria to apply tax exemption under the Widening Access to Training Scheme (WAT Scheme) rules.
The Trust contacted HMRC in June/July 2017 to ask them to advise whether the Trainee Clinical Psychologists, Nurse Associate, High and Low Intensity courses met the criteria under the WAT Scheme.

HMRC advised that their technical team could not make a decision on the eligibility of these roles.  Instead they referred the Trust to two documents – a flow chart and a document called “lines to take”.
    
These ommunications will explain the Trust’s position, based on our application of HMRC’s rules.

Trainee Clinical Psychologists
HMRC communicated in March 2017 that Trainee Clinical Psychologists do not meet the criteria for WAT Scheme.

Information can be found here.
 
Nurse Associate
NHS Employers have sought clarification from HMRC on the eligibility of Nurse Associate. HMRC have taken the view the role does not qualify for the tax and national insurance (NI) exemptions on the basis that the income received is more similar in nature to a salary than a scholarship income.
Click here to see the NHS Employers Communication.


Low Intensity Workers
The Trust has used the above information in its technical application of HMRC WAT Scheme rules i.e. to qualify for the tax exemption the course has to be full time. This should not be confused with the employment contract i.e. whether a member of staff is employed full or part time is irrelevant. If the course is not full time, then the WAT Scheme tax exemption rules do not apply.
The Low Intensity Scheme therefore does not meet the criteria.

High Intensity Workers
Using the above HMRC guidance again to assess the High Intensity Workers course, the Trust position is that this course does not meet the WAT Scheme criteria based on the following:
•    The individual is hosted on a Training Contract. To meet the WAT Scheme criteria individuals must be on a substantive employment contract.  Individuals are therefore set up as trainees on Electronic Staff Record (ESR) on a fixed term contract with an end date.  There is no guaranteed role within the Trust at the end of the training period, unlike those on employment contracts which are open ended.

Other Trusts and WAT
The Trust is aware that a number of Low/High Intensity Trainees have requested their employer for refunds from HMRC.  The fact that other NHS’s Low/High Intensity Trainees may have had refunds does not in itself prove the correct application of the rules. It is acknowledged that there is a variation in the application of how different training courses are funded in the United Kingdom.  The Trust is clear that the current funding for the Low/High intensity course comes directly from Health Education England and we are asked to host the training course on their behalf, hence the training contract which does not meet the criteria for WAT Scheme
In terms of Low/High Intensity Trainees contacting HMRC directly to make their own individual claim for a refund, it is unlikely that HMRC will accept these claims. Instead HMRC requires employers to make request for refunds on behalf of staff. The Trust has advised HMRC that it will not be submitting a request for refunds to be made to its Low/High Intensity Trainees, as it does not believe they comply with the criteria for WAT Scheme tax exemption rules to apply.
For your information HMRC have informed the Trust that their technical team is reviewing all NHS job roles in relation to WAT Scheme. Once we have received further guidance from the HMRC in relation to their review, the Trust will be happy to review your case again should it meet the revised criteria for the WAT Scheme.
Please be advised that unfortunately we are unable to reply to individual emails and telephone calls on this subject. The Trust position is clear and whilst we appreciate that the outcome may be disappointing, it has been reached following HMRC defined criteria.