The 2023 Budget - What's in it for Dentistry?

The 2023 Budget - What’s in it for Dentistry?

In a combative performancethat missed no opportunities to make political jibes at his opponents, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered many widely leaked initiatives which the government hopes will address ’investment incentives’ and ’labour supply’ issues that beset the economy and it would be churlish not to acknowledge that the dental profession stands to benefit from several of Hunt’s measures.

The Annual Investment Allowance is increased to £1m, meaning 99% of businesses may deduct the full value of all their investment from that year’s taxable profits, Mr Hunt said.

To Tory cheers, the Chancellor said he was also introducing "full expensing" for the next three years, with an intention to make it permanent "as soon as we can responsibly do so".

Mr Hunt added this meant that "every single pound a company invests in IT equipment, plant or machinery can be deducted in full and immediately from taxable profits". Practice owners who have prevaricated over the merits of buying a CBCT or whether to refurbish a surgery may find their deliberations a little easier in light of this.

On Pensions, Chancellor Hunt really did grab the bull by the horns, not upping but abolishing the cap on the amount workers can accumulate in their pension pot before having to pay extra tax. The limit is currently £1.07M. This tax has been widely blamed for prompting the premature retirement of many doctors and dentists who it is now hoped will be enticed to bolt on a few more years of service without suffering punitive tax charges.

The tax-free yearly allowance for pension pots is also to rise from £40,000 to £60,000 - having been frozen for nine years.

Stealing Labour’s clothes, the budget introduced a raft of Childcare measures which will make it easier for mothers to return to the workplace and to work for longer. This should, in time, ease some of the difficulties that surround the recruitment of dental nurses, many of whom have young families and are driven either to work part time or leave the profession.

Mr Hunt unveiled plans to extend the provision of 30 hours of free childcare for working parents to cover children below the age of three with the aim of extending it to nine months. Proposals and incentives to increase the number of childminders together with changes to the childminder/children in their care ratio were also announced.

Other measures in the budget included making it faster and simpler for new medicines approved for use in the USA, Europe and Japan to enter the clinician’s inventory.

Taken together, the budget announcements will help ease some of the barriers to delivery of dental services, most notably as they apply to the labour market. They won’t make any short term improvements to the access crisis or the dire state of funding, but then budgets are neither the time, nor the place, for major spending announcements. But at least some fundamentals have been addressed or at least acknowledged.

In his reaction, Iain Stevenson, Head of Dental at the Wesleyan Group, said: “Dentists – and patients – will benefit from the government’s proposals to offer corporation tax relief on new investments.

“Practices are always looking to see how they can invest to improve quality of service for their patients. Under today’s measures, incorporated practices be able to offset some of their tax bills for investment in equipment.
“We’re also pleased to see increases to the annual allowance and the scrapping of the lifetime allowance. Anything that incentivises more retirement saving is only a good thing, and this will reduce the risk of dentists leaving the profession to avoid the threat of pension tax charges.
“However, it’s disappointing to see that the Chancellor didn’t take the opportunity to announce any specific measures for dentistry, particularly increases to the NHS spending budget. In its current state, it’s no surprise that many dentists are questioning whether it’s feasible to continue providing NHS services, rather than transitioning to private care.”

GDPUK will be reflecting further on the budget and capturing comment from industry figures as they are made.


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