Time for the NHS to come clean on its tax avoiding bosses

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An amazing piece of evidence revealing that they were up to 2,400 off pay roll people in the NHS was slipped into an inquiry by the House of Lords by the Department of Health last week.

The findings published today in a report by Exaro News reveals that as many NHS staff as Whitehall staff were avoiding paying tax and national insurance at source – bringing the total in government to nearly 5000 in 2012.

Now no doubt some people on short-term contracts can justify this but what is becoming increasingly clear from the evidence submitted by the Department of Health ( see page 91 onwards) that many do not.

The worst offenders appear to be high earners at the top of NHS Foundation Trusts – where over a third -51 out of 147 – had someone at the top avoiding paying tax and national insurance at source. Someone was even off pay roll and claiming a full pension from the taxpayer as well!

 Monitor,the regulatory authority for NHS Foundation Trusts, is currently conducting an inquiry into exactly who is benefiting – and as a result numbers are shrinking.

 But we don’t know yet whether Monitor is going to name and shame the trusts and the people taking advantage of this tax loophole. Well if the organisation  has got any teeth it should be like the National Audit Office  and publish a full and detailed report. Avoiding tax while working for the cash strapped NHS is particularly nasty and greedy and should be stamped out. Let’s see if Monitor is going to do its job.

Is your NHS boss a tax avoider? You’ll soon find out

NHS bosses: subject to tax avoidance inquiry

NHS bosses: subject to tax avoidance inquiry

The tax avoidance scandal that shook up Whitehall is soon to spread to the NHS. As reported earlier following the exposure of Ed Lester, the former head of the Students Loan Company, for channelling his salary through a personal service company to avoid  paying national insurance and tax at source. The practice was still going on in Whitehall two years after the event and 125 civil servants who quit have been reported to Revenue and Customs.

 Now the NHS is to face the same scrutiny. Reports in Exaro News and Tribune last week highlighted the issue – with the findings now likely to be sooner rather than later.

An inquiry has been ordered by Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, after Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury requested it.

Some two years ago a lesser inquiry – just into board members of NHS bodies – revealed some 28 out of 84 people were on this bandwagon. Earlier examples included   Robert Clarke, finance director at NHS Professionals, which supplies temporary workers to the health service, was paid at least £534,000 over three years through a personal-service company.

Another former chief executive of NHS Professionals, Neil Lloyd, was paid £631,000 off payroll over three years.

This time the Health Department sounds uncompromising. A spokesman said:

 “Tax avoidance will not be tolerated, and there is no excuse for it in the NHS, or any other part of the public sector.”

The Trust Development Authority, which provides guidance on governance to NHS trusts, is working with Monitor, which regulates the running of health bodies, to carry out the investigation to ensure that the use of off-payroll contracts is in line with guidance.

targeted is anybody earning over £58,200 a year or has been in post for more than six months and being paid through a personal service company.

In my view it cannot come soon enough. Tax avoidance deprives the Treasury of cash that could be used for better public services. Tax avoidance in the cash strapped NHS is actually depriving hospitals and communities of vital cash. All these people also earn a fair whack. They are not those forced to take a one per cent pay rise and see their living standards go down. On the contrary through tax avoidance they get richer on the backs of others.