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Widening Access Training Schemes

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have created a scheme that allows NHS employees to claim refunds for the income tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions they paid for Widening Access Training (WAT) courses.
The Trust has produced a set of FAQs to assist individuals to determine whether they may meet the requirements in order to be eligible for a refund. Please click here to view.
We recommend all staff considering making any WAT scheme application to the Trust (in order to see whether they are eligible for a refund) reads the FAQs together with the information contained on this page [in order to ensure that they understand the conditions which must be met and potentially, depending upon their role (see below), whether any such application would be appropriate to make in the first instance.]

The position in respect of enquiries received to date

The Trust has had to deal with a significant number of requests from staff in the following roles who are unhappy that they are not viewed as being eligible for any WTS scheme refund;
  • Nursing Trainees (Band 2)
  • Trainee Nursing Associate (Band 3)
  • Graduate Mental Health Workers (Band 3)
  • Nursing Trainees (Band 3)
  • Low Intensity Trainee (Band 4)
  • High Intensity Trainees (Band 6)
The Trust has therefore set out below the reasons why it cannot process any WATS applications and why such roles will not be eligible for a refund.
The Trust has a statutory duty to comply with HMRC rules and guidance when determining whether any payments made are subject to income tax and NI deductions or whether a possible rebate applies. HMRC have provided guidance in the form of a flow chart which makes clear the process of evaluation that the Trust must undertake and the conditions that must be met by any employee in order for them to be eligible for a WAT Scheme refund. 
Unfortunately, in undertaking this assessment based on HMRC's updated guidance it is clear that the Trust cannot consider the roles noted above as being eligible for the WATS Scheme as the nature of the payments made including the fact that many applications involve earnings over and above the level of £15,480 (a level of payment which HMRC notes that may "exceed what might reasonably be described as a scholarship or training allowance") means that the Trust cannot legitimately consider this to be classed as "training or scholarship income" under the definition provided in the flowchart guidance.  This is because individuals working in these roles whilst undertaking a WAT course have not been paid a distinct, identifiable payment specifically for training and as such the Trust cannot, on the basis of the HMRC flowcharts, process any applications for eligibility to the WATS Scheme for these roles.

Trainee Clinical Psychologists (TCP’s) – December 2018 Update

The Trust has written to HMRC requesting clarification on the eligibility of TCP’s for WAT scheme refunds.  We are sorry for the recent confusion caused by the mixed messages received from HMRC, and ask for your patience whilst we continue to work with HRMC to address further outstanding queries.  You can monitor this page for any further updates, or alternatively email workforceintelligence@candi.nhs.uk to be added to our mailing list.

Previous refunds (prior to February 2017) to colleagues in same roles

In respect of any previous rebates that may have been received by individuals in earlier financial years we have been informed by HMRC that they will not be seeking to recover or challenge any such previous historical decisions but HMRC have made clear that they expect all Trusts to administer any applications received for the WATS Scheme in accordance with its updated guidance issued in 2017.  The Trust has therefore applied and will continue to apply the relevant HMRC advice in assessing each of the applications received from anyone and unfortunately the fact that historically refunds may have been made to earlier applicants does not mean that anyone can automatically be eligible for the WATS Scheme refund on that basis.

What to do if you are unhappy with the Trust's position and wish to apply for a WATS refund

Given that the Trust's position has been reached adhering to the implementation of updated HMRC guidance it is not proportionate or reasonable for the Trust to enter into protracted correspondence on this issue with anyone who disagrees with any decision reached as regards processing existing or future WATS applications which it may receive.
If individuals remain unhappy with any decision reached by the Trust then you may wish to contact HMRC to request a review of any eligibility for the WATS Scheme.  However, should you wish to do this then HMRC have indicated to us you would need to provide them with copies of any correspondence the Trust provides to you setting out the reasons why you were not considered eligible for the WATS Scheme as part of any review they may undertake.  If this is something that individuals wish to do then they should contact HMRC accordingly.

HMRC Widening Access Team contact details

Widening Access Team 9 | Room BP1002 | Bamburgh House | Newcastle upon Tyne | BX9 1AN | Tel. 030 0055 5798


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