Widening Access Training scheme

03 January 2017

If you have deducted Income Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) from workers who attended a Widening Access Training course (WAT), both you and the worker could be entitled to a refund.

This is because payments made by employers to workers receiving full-time instruction can be exempted from Income Tax and NICs provided certain conditions are met. In these circumstances it’s up to you to take the correct deductions from workers’ pay.


Workers must have attended a qualifying WAT course. They’ll also have had Income Tax and NICs deducted from their pay during that period.

If workers did a combination of paid work and attended a qualifying WAT course, they may also be eligible for a refund if you deducted Income Tax and NICs from all of their pay.

You can find full details of conditions in Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001 and Statement of Practice 4/86.


Responsibility for refunds


Training courses attended before 6 April 2013

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will deal with the refund if your employee attended a qualifying WAT course starting before 6 April 2013.

You should submit claims to HMRC on behalf of your NHS employees, providing full details of all eligible workers.

Trusts/authorities should notify HMRC by submitting a schedule by email to nhswat.mailbox@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Workers have been advised to contact you to confirm if you’ve already sent a claim to HMRC on their behalf. You may need to ask them for further information or evidence to support their application for a refund.


Training courses attended after 6 April 2013

If workers attended a qualifying WAT course starting on or after the 6 April 2013 the refund should be dealt with by you through your payroll system.