My first Budget will include tax breaks for companies who help staff with mental health issues says Boris Johnson.
Companies who go the extra mile to help staff struggling with mental health problems should be rewarded with tax breaks.
The Conservative leadership frontrunner said it was time to offer “preferential tax treatment to companies that look after employees at work” as he promised to order a review of the treasury in time for his first Budget if he becomes Prime Minister.
The Telegraph reports that Mr Johnson said it would be “far better” for people with mental health problems to be able to get treatment without “being forced to leave their job”. He also argued that staying at work could give people struggling with depression and other conditions an “all-important sense of satisfaction”.
He said: “with the look of things, mental health and occupational health services are taxable as benefits in kind. That means they incur both income tax and national insurance.
“At most, employers can get a moderate reimbursement of £500, but that is only if a staff is off for more than 28 days – a pointless incentive, since the whole idea should be to keep the employee at the workplace, or to ensure that time off is as brief as possible.
“So as a suggestion from me. I believe it is time to offer a preferential tax treatment to companies that look after their employees in work – giving them the counselling and the help they need to do their jobs.
“It is time for the Treasury and the NHS to work together to make some preference in terms of the rules. And if they can come up with a plan, and I am sure that they can we should be able to put it into effect this autumn, well that depends on me being elected. This would be the first Budget of the new government.”
Mr Johnson wouldn’t go further to outline how his government would fund the tax breaks, but he admitted that it will “cost money”.
But he argued that “any loss in revenue would be more than made up by the gains in productivity and the savings in NHS spending”.
The latest tax cut pledge comes after both candidates in the Conservative leadership race came under fire from Philip Hammond for engaging in a “bidding war” of tax and spending promises.
The Chancellor told the BBC earlier this month: “There is always a temptation to sort of get into a bidding war about spending more and cutting taxes.
“But you can’t do both and, if we’re not careful, all we end up doing is borrowing more, spending more on interest instead of on our schools and our hospitals and our police, and delivering a bigger burden of debt to our children and our grandchildren.”
According to the paper, Mr Johnson would aim to meet Mr Trump within two months of becoming Prime Minister.
An member and ally of the Conservative leadership hopeful said: “The key to the whole idea is the US. If we get a trade deal with America we will be very quickly in the market for other deals. It encourages others to realize that we mean business.”
William Kellogg is a veteran writer who’s covered the subject of the intersection of technology, health and mental wellness for nearly two decades.