05 / 6 / 2014 9.28am
I wanted to update you about some important changes to the mileage rates for staff on Agenda for Change terms and conditions and also to let you have a quick update from the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday 4 June.
The Agenda for Change agreement requires mileage allowances to be reviewed regularly and rates are based on estimates of motoring costs made by the Automobile Association. The latest review has been completed and will see the “standard” rate being reduced from 67 pence per mile to 54 pence per mile from 1 July 2014. According to our figures, NHS trusts are set to save an estimated £20 million compared to last year. The mileage rate for doctors and dentists has not changed.
The pay circular has been issued today and you can see it on our website. We have also produced a simple infographic that explains how the figures are calculated and you can also download a copy from our website. A summary of the changes and updated FAQs are also accessible from our latest news page.
The Queen’s Speech contained a number of NHS and workforce-related announcements. The first relates to a limit on redundancy payments across the public sector. We understand this refers to the ‘claw back’ of compensation payments, including redundancy payments, which you may have already seen in the media last weekend. The Government has confirmed that they will introduce legislative provisions to mandate the recovery of compensation payments across the public sector from individuals earning over £100,000, with some tapering for those earning under this amount. These provisions would apply where an individual takes a new job in the same part of the public sector within twelve months of receiving a compensation payment and will be pro-rated depending on the length of time between exit and re-employment. We are expecting a consultation exercise to follow and we will of course keep you informed of any developments. More detail is available on our latest news web page.
The Speech also contained an announcement on changes to private pension markets. In the main, this will have little impact on the NHS Pension Scheme. Where it may become applicable in the future is for those employees who are ineligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme and need to be automatically enrolled in an alternative provider scheme. For those employees, employers will have the additional option of a collective defined contribution scheme when they become available. We will be reviewing further information as it is released and will keep you up to date on relevant developments.
Other information from today’s speech that may be of interest to employers includes:
- Commitment to increase personal tax allowances and freeze on fuel duty
- Increased penalties for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage and an action to tackle abuse of zero-hours contracts
- An increase in apprenticeship placements to two million by the end of Parliament
- Measures brought forward for a married couple’s allowance, which will recognise marriage in the tax system
- Free childcare extended to disadvantaged children up to two years old
- Support with childcare costs for working families
We were expecting an announcement on the Regulation of Health and Social Care Professionals Bill following the Law Commission’s review of professional regulation in April but this did not appear in the Speech. The Law Commission has said that that their proposed reforms “aim to sweep away the out-dated and inflexible decision-making processes associated with the current legislation.” The Department of Health has indicated that this issue continues to be a priority and is committed to legislation when Parliamentary time allows.
Also, ahead of NHS trade unions’ planned ‘day of activity’ across England tomorrow, we have some useful information from our legal advisers, Capsticks, about what this means for employers. This is now available to download on our website.
Whilst I am writing, I also thought that it would be useful to give you an update on some other activities that are happening this week that I think you might find useful. During the NHS Confederation conference this week, we are promoting our new streamlining tools that have been incredibly effective in London and are now being rolled out in other areas of the country. They include sections on how London trusts streamlined junior doctors’ rotations, employment checks and statman training, as well as case studies and guidance from the London trusts who have benefited from the programme. You can download the materials from the streamlining section of our website. At conference on Thursday we will also be launching our new toolkit that we have produced to help you take forward some of the flexibilities in the Agenda for Change scheme. This is available on our Agenda for Change amendments web pages.
Finally, you may have seen the HSJ article released on 4 June 2014 about the results of the latest HR Barometer. The full details will be on our website and on the HSJ site tomorrow morning. The data provides a really useful snapshot into key issues, so thank you to those who took the time to complete the survey as we had over 100 responses.
As ever, I would welcome any comments or feedback that you may have on any of these issues and you can contact me at email@example.com.
With best wishes,
Chief Executive, NHS Employers