The government has reversed its decision to exclude independent pharmacies from its £2,000 employment allowance, following a C+D campaign.
Contractors were previously unable to claim for the allowance, which was announced on April 6, because they carried out more than half of their work for the NHS and were deemed "public sector" businesses.
But HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed yesterday (May 6) that the government had changed its mind and independents would be eligible for the allowance, in the wake of a three-week campaign by C+D and pharmacy groups.
"Following representations received from pharmacies and representative bodies clarifying and providing further details of their work, HMRC has come to the conclusion that independent pharmacies do not come within the exclusion when they are dispensing NHS prescriptions," a spokesperson told C+D.
As part of the campaign, C+D provided a template letter that many contractors sent to their local MPs. C+D also spoke to politicians with an interest in the sector, including all-party pharmacy group chair Sir Kevin Barron and shadow health minister Jamie Reed, who threw their weight behind the campaign.
HMRC has changed its decision after a campaign by C+D which included a letter sent by contractors to their MP
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In its template letter, C+D argued that independents, unlike GPs, do not receive NHS pensions or have their costs remunerated by the NHS and so were entitled to the allowance. The extra £2,000 would allow contractors to deliver extra healthcare services, reducing the strain on the wider NHS and improving the health of local populations, the letter said.
NPA chief executive Mike Holden, who also wrote to the government to query the exclusion of contractors, told C+D that he was "delighted" at the news and the speed at which HMRC had responded.
"This episode goes to show that reasoned argument made by a united sector can achieve results," he said.
HMRC told C+D that they will update their guidance to reflect the changes. Details of how to claim for the allowance can be found on the government's website.