During times of crisis, you will often find people trying their hardest to help others.
Everyone is currently in awe of the efforts of the NHS, keyworkers and all those tackling the COVID-19 pandemic on the front line. While they busily put themselves in harm’s way to save others, those of us who have the privilege to bunker down in the safety of our own homes are afforded the opportunity to evaluate the crisis from a safe distance. This exercise has allowed some to identify issues which may impact our keyworkers, outside of their immediate risk to their health.
Allan Beardsworth, who was a partner at the international accountancy firm Deloitte for 30 years, identified a way that the Government could do something to help some of the frontline who are sadly killed in the line of duty while tackling this crisis.
Mr Beardworth’s idea was for NHS staff and frontline workers killed by coronavirus to be exempted from inheritance tax. While he acknowledged that this might only help a few, he commented “But if it helps a few, or just one person who died trying to help others, isn’t it justified?” and, after not receiving a response to emails sent to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his local MP, it now appears to have been adopted by ministers just a few days after he emailed one of Boris Johnson’s senior advisers.
While inheritance tax does not kick in until the value of an estate passes the current nil-rate band limit of £325,000, and there is the transferable nil-rate band and residence exemptions that offer some relief on many estates, it has been pointed out that due to the fact that many retired keyworkers are returning to work and the frontline, there are many who may die before their time who have not been afforded the time to obtain estate planning advice who may have had the time to build up the wealth to be caught by the usual inheritance tax rules.
Currently some of the armed forces and emergency services are allowed an inheritance tax exemption, so extending this to those who die on the frontline due to coronavirus seems completely logical, but with ministers currently absorbed in the immediate needs of those fighting this battle, Mr Beardsworth has been able to bring this measure to the attention of No. 10 to ensure those keyworkers are protected beyond their immediate role.
The announcement that this plan was to be implemented was made by the Daily Telegraph, without mention that it was Mr Beardsworth who made the suggestion, a suggestion which was finally acknowledged by an email response from No. 10.
We pass on our gratitude to Mr Beardsworth for ensuring his idea was implemented. A great example of how those not on the frontline can find ways to further protect those who are.