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) –  July 2019 Update

Please click here to view our most recent communication regarding TCP’s and WAT’s eligibility.  If you have now left C&I please ensure we have the most up to date information by sending us a completed WAT’s application form, which can be downloaded from the downloads section at the top of this page.  

We have now processed our next payment covering the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18 and colleagues should have received their funds via bank transfer in early September.
We are aware that some colleagues that were due a rebate were omitted from the payment cycle.  These TCP's have been contacted by the Trust and any monies owed will be paid to them in our September pay cycle.  In addition to this, a further payment will be made to those TCP's who undertook training during 2015-16.
The date of the next payment remains unconfirmed but we expect this to be made towards the end of September/early October.  The exact date will be confirmed once our payroll team have submitted the BACS
New HMRC Guidance
The trust is aware that HMRC has provided some further guidance in relation to WATS.  We have seen this guidance and spoken directly to HMRC and we can confirm that it is not intended to overturn any decisions that have already been made.  Whilst the guidance makes reference to a deadline for making claims being the 1st of September, this only relates to new claims.  As we have already confirmed we will be processing the rebate for all eligible TCP’s, our position remains unchanged.
For the purpose of clarity: 
• To receive a rebate, you must have been enrolled on a full-time course as a TCP and on active assignment during the relevant financial year. 
• Due to the number of rebates that are going to be processed, it is not going to be possible for us to individually notify each TCP of the amount that they will receive in advance of each payment.  However, if you have been training full time during the entire financial year, the total rebate you are likely to receive for the year will be approx. £3500. 
• Upon receipt of your payment, if you have any questions please contact WATS@candi.nhs.uk

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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