MPs have backed a pension amendment that Rishi Sunak has claimed will help reduce NHS waiting lists.
The prime minister has argued that the tax cut for people with pensions worth more than £1m will lead to doctors working more hours, although he could not say how many would stay on the job because of this.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt used his budget last week to scrap the tax-free limit on pension savings, which had been £1.07m.
Labor criticized it as a “bonus for the richest 1%”, arguing that a pension scheme intended for doctors would be fairer.
MPs voted 330 to 233, with a majority of 97, in favor of the budget resolution on life allowance and annual bonus.
Resolutions are specific proposals for taxation and allow the House of Representatives to legislate for tax changes in the Finance Bill.
Sunak previously defended the tax break, which will cost £2.75 billion over the next five years, saying current allowances were prompting doctors to scrap extra shifts or retire early.
“This is about cutting queues,” he said in an interview with BBC Breakfast.
“We need our best doctors, our most experienced doctors, we want them to work, they want to work, they want help with waiting lists, they want to work longer hours, they don’t want to retire.
“I want to eliminate the waiting list and that’s why we’re making the change we’ve made, and it will benefit everyone in getting healthcare faster.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that the tax credit could boost the workforce by 15,000 as people who might have retired to avoid a life allowance violation decided to stay on instead.
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Pat McFadden compared the government’s decision to scrap lifetime pension benefits to the “Hold my beer” meme, which could be used to imply that someone is about to do something silly.
Defending calls by Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting to raise the cap for doctors, Macfadden told the Commons: “In the run-up to the budget, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health called for a special scheme to deal with the issues facing doctors forcing some to retire early.
This was a call supported by the Chancellor when he was Chairman of the Health Selection Committee.
His report said, and I quote, ‘The government must act quickly to reform the NHS pension system… to prevent senior staff from reducing their hours and retiring early from the NHS’. That is exactly what the shadow health secretary has put forward.”
He added: “When (Mr Streeting) made that call he was attacked by the opposite end. They said it was a waste of money. They said such a policy could not be tolerated, and remember this was just a scheme directed at the NHS.”
Mr McFadden continued: “What did they do next? They said ‘Wes, hold my beer'”. Because only days later, having denounced the smaller NHS scheme as utterly unaffordable, did they propose abolishing the life allowance entirely. According to the Tories’ argument, it could not It can be completely tolerated by doctors alone, so we’ll suggest it to everyone.”
Ending the fourth and final day of budget debate, Chancellor of the Exchequer John Glenn said many in the medical profession had called for pension reforms over several months.
He added: “Our pension reforms benefit experienced key workers as well as physicians.
“School chiefs, police chiefs, armed forces medics, senior members of the armed forces, air traffic controllers, prison governors, chief government scientists, appointed government veterinarians, and yes, even senior private sector officials who are creating jobs for our economy, sustaining growth across Economy “.
Labor MPs could be heard shouting “the bankers” as Mr Glenn listed those who would benefit from the change.
MPs also voted 321 to 64, by 257, in favor of the budget resolution allowing for an increase in the alcohol duty.
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