Tax breaks on work health schemes “too narrow”
The Government is moving in the right direction on encouraging health and fitness schemes in the workplace – but its tax breaks for employers “are still too narrow”, said the UK’s leading professional body in occupational health and safety.
In its submission for a HM Treasury consultation, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said it backed the decision to remove tax disincentives for certain employer-provided health support and access to physical activity and sports.
But the chartered body called on Ministers to remove three restrictions, which it says threaten to undermine the proposals.
IOSH wants the Treasury to scrap:
The limit of £500 expenditure per employee per year
The stipulation that to be eligible for tax relief, health therapy must be recommended via the new Health and Work Service
The exclusion from tax exemption of associated costs to the employer’s health support, such as specialist equipment, workplace adjustments and travel expenses
IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “It’s great that the Government are recognising the business benefits of good health support at work and is bringing in these tax breaks.
“But we feel the arbitrary restriction, a £500 cap, on how much employers can invest in their workers and limiting eligibility to only interventions recommended by the new Health and Work Service (HWS), are counter-productive and self-defeating.”
IOSH made the call in its submission to the Treasury’s informal consultation on the ‘Implementation of tax exemptions for employer expenditure on health-related interventions’.
The Institution would like to see:
Tax relief for employer-provided health interventions for certain doctor-recommended therapies aimed at supporting worker health, wellbeing and employment, in addition to those recommended via HWS
Tax relief for Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) retained and for the benefits of such programmes to be more widely promoted Tax-exempt employer expenditure per employee to be related to clinical needs without capping. Reversal of the decision to automatically exclude associated costs from tax relief, such as those for specialist equipment, workplace adjustments and travel costs
Tax relief for employer-provided subscriptions for employees to public gyms and sports facilities
IOSH first called for the removal of tax disincentives for employers providing health support back in 2006, in a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It reiterated this in its 2007 submission to Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of Britain’s working age population ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’.