Rishi Sunak braved the risks of the current coronavirus outbreak to deliver his first Budget – not only the first announcement for two years, but also the first of Brexit Britain. It was a Budget full of excitement and demonstrated the Conservative Government’s eagerness to succeed and fulfil promises made, which was a refreshing change from the uncertainty of 2018’s Budget. There are now definite plans in place.
Among promises to support our pubs, slash tampon tax and abolish the reading tax, there were a number of important points that dental professionals should be aware of.
It’s no surprise that amid the panic surrounding the virus that this is something that the Conservatives had to address. Sunak revealed that £30 billion is being pledged by the Government to help support the economy during this crisis – including abolished business rates for many firms in England, extending Statutory Sick Pay to all those who self-isolate even if they are not showing symptoms, and refunding sick pay paid out by businesses that have less that 250 staff as a result of coronavirus during this time.
A “temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme” has also been approved for banks to offer small and medium sized businesses, which may benefit private dental practices.
Support for the NHS
Despite fears that the Conservatives would abandon our NHS, it seems that Budget has been put in place to support this essential service, which will trickle into dental practices under the NHS umbrella. £6 billion of funds have been proposed to support this service, and while a large chunk of this will likely go into the construction of 40 new hospitals and the recruitment and training of 50,000 new nurses, there will inevitably be some money left to benefit dental services.
This is supported by the hiking up of the existing immigration health surcharge – it now will cost an individual £624 per annum to access NHS services (£470 for children) and this increase is likely to boost the available funds for the NHS considerably. There is no specific news if this increased fee will directly benefit dentistry, however.
Relief for professionals in the industry
The Tapered Annual Allowance that plagued the pensions of successful doctors and dental professionals will now have its threshold raised by another £90,000, meaning that those who earn less that £200,000 will no longer be affected. This is great news for healthcare professionals who perform essential services and are now outside of this earning bracket, and is a step forward towards ensuring health care professionals are supported in their success.
The Government will also reduce the minimum level to which the Annual Allowance can taper to £4,000 from £10,000 which Sunak said would only impact those with total income of £300,000 or more. This is unlikely to directly impact many dental professionals, but still something to consider.
Staff members earning between £8,632 and £50,000 can also look forward to a little boost as the National Insurance threshold has been increased, meaning that people in this earning bracket will typical see savings of about £100. Though this sum is hardly life-changing, it’s still positive news.
Building foundations in dentistry
Another thing worth examining from this year’s Budget is the promise to invest more into research and development and in universities across the country.
For those looking to enter the dental profession this should make a significant difference depending on how these grants are implemented into university expenditure – but institutions with a focus on dentistry are likely to make improvements.
Furthermore, as part of the Conservatives’ promise to support new ideas and industry, the Budget assigned £22 billion for research and development. Although this will cover a wide umbrella of scientific research, it will inevitably support research carried out surrounding vital aspects of oral health, new dental products and so forth.
A greener, more convenient UK
The conservatives have all but promised to revolutionise transport under this Budget, not only pledging money to solve issues such as potholes, but also supporting the creation of new roads, sorting out problems with major motorways and investing in more green transport solutions.
For commuters this could make a big difference – if only that roads will be less congested and commutes will be shorter. In addition, pledges to make eco-friendly vehicles such as electric cars could make a difference, especially as there is an added promise to install high-speed charging hubs so that people are always less than 30 miles away from one. This may encourage drivers to consider switching to an electric vehicle or hybrid sooner rather than later. This is especially relevant as pollution taxes are set to be increased too.
Changes to how energy is taxed will also be implemented. As electricity is a greener type of fuel, it will have the levy frozen on it, while the levy on gas will rise to reflect the impact these energy sources have. As such, it may be worth looking to see how your practice bills will be impacted.
A hopeful horizon
Overall, the 2020 Budget paints a pretty picture of success and innovation – as long as these promises are actually met by the Government. Regardless, even if only some of these measures are implemented, we are looking at a positive future in dentistry. It should be one that will continue to support those looking to enter the industry, as well as those who have long supplied patients with the care they need and deserve.
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Posted by Robert