Budget 2013: Tax break for health intervention employee benefits

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The Chancellor's indication that companies will get a targeted tax relief tax help with sickness related employee benefits has been welcomed.

While the George Osborne did not elaborate in his Budget 2013 speech, he said: "Companies that look after their employees, and help them return to work after periods of sickness, will get new help through the tax system too."

The full Budget document however clarifies: "Each year over 130 million working days are lost to sickness absence.

"The Government believes that more can be done to support employees to return to work, and commissioned Dame Carol Black and David Frost to conduct an independent review of sickness absence.

"Following their recommendations, as announced in January 2013, the Government will abolish the Percentage Threshold Scheme and recycle funding into creating the health and work assessment and advisory service for those in danger of long-term sickness absence.

"The Government will also introduce a targeted tax relief so that amounts up to a cap of £500 paid by employers on health-related interventions recommended by the service are not treated as a taxable benefit in kind. The Government will consult on implementation later in 2013."

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRID): "We are pleased that the Government has recognised that interventions targeted at minimising absence (or speeding employees' return to work) should be encouraged rather than penalised.

"Financially astute employers will, of course, continue their health, wellbeing and support programmes to ensure return on investment plus an incentivised, productive and well supported workforce but relief on interventions will encourage many more employers to consider such programmes.

"The Government has clearly recognised the crucial role of the employer in helping employees return to work as quickly as possible and that additional support is needed to help them facilitate this."

Kevin Carr, chief executive of the Protection review, commented: "I'm surprised, but on first glance I can't see anyone in the protection sector not being pleased with this move. The protection sector is always pleased by these encouragements and this will be especially welcome in the group sector."

John Letizia, head of public affairs and corporate social responsibility at Unum, added that the Government's introduction of tax relief was good news and very much welcomed the move.

Osborne also introduced a tax cut that will shave the first £2,000 off National Insurance bills for businesses. He also promised to double to £10,000 the size of loans that employers can offer tax-free to pay for items such as season tickets for commuters.

The budget speech in full

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