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ukactive eyes salary sacrifice for high street gyms despite government crackdown on scheme

By Deven Pamben    23 Nov 2016
Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement as chancellor on Wednesday (23 November) / PA/PA Wire/PA Images

ukactive remains confident that it can encourage the government to extend its tax relief scheme on employee benefits to include gym memberships, despite an apparent crackdown by chancellor Philip Hammond.

As part of a number of measures included within Hammond’s first Autumn Statement was the commitment to tighten regulations on ‘salary sacrifice’ programmes, which allow workers to trade part of their wage for benefits.

Corporate gym memberships are likely to be among the perks scrapped from next April as the Treasury loses out on income tax from the employee and national insurance payments from the employer on salary sacrifice schemes.

Despite this, the not-for-profit body said it was “looking forward” to continuing discussions with the government department about expanding salary sacrifice to include not only high street gym memberships, but fitness equipment as well.

ukactive director Steven Ward said that although the loss of benefit for corporate gym users “only affected a small proportion of the workforce”, the organisation “cannot condone any policy that makes it harder for people to improve their health by being more active”.

On a more positive note for the health and fitness sector, the government has decided not to take away the salary sacrifice benefit for its cycle to work scheme.

“Since its launch in 1999, over 646,000 people have taken advantage of the scheme, which according to the Department of Transport, has brought major health benefits and greatly helped environment as well,” said Ward, adding that he wanted to “maximise” the impact of the initiative going forward.

Gym  membership  tax  chancellor 
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