Don Macarthur (DM) - Co-chair Business Customer Unit
Martin Kavanagh (MK) - Local Compliance
Janet Mackinnon (JM) - Customer Contact Directorate
Caroline Elvin (CE) - Debt Management and Banking
Tim Downes (TD) - IMS Software Developers Support Team
Paul Braviner (PB) - Large Business Service
Sue Williams (SW) - Business Customer Unit - Carter programme
Sue Hunt (SH) - PAYE, Self Assessment and National Insurance Product and Processes
Sam Shelley (SS) - Individual Customer Directorate
Ian Atkin (IA) - PAYE, Self Assessment and National Insurance Product and Processes
Guy Westhead (GW) - PAYE, Self Assessment and National Insurance Product and Processes
Alison Bainbridge (AB) - Business Customer Unit
Val Grant (VG) - Business Customer Unit
Karen Thomson (KT) - Co-chair - IPP
Iain Scott-Shore (ISS) - CBI
Jackie Petherbridge (JP) - FSB
Norman Green (NG) - BCS PG
Henry Cooper (HC) - AAT
Peter Bickley (PCB) - ICAEW
Trevor Blackmur (TB) - ATT
John Hampton (JH) - CBI
Alex Rowson (AR) - BASDA
Fiona Bell (FB) - CIOT
Linda Pullan (LP) - Payroll Alliance
Chas Roy - Chowdhury (CR) - ACCA
Margaret Knights - HMRC
Kshama Shore - HMRC
Sue Lely - HMRC
John Clough - HMRC
Paul Franklin - HMRC
Sam Mitha - HMRC
Matthew Brown - CIOT
Michael Templeman - IOD
Abigail Morris - BCC
Anne Redston - ICAEW
Glenn Collins - ACA
Ian Whyteside - AAT
Don welcomed all present - particularly those attending for the first time - and Karen took the forum members through the minutes and action points. Minutes agreed from last meeting, subject to noting that Linda Pullan was present. Minutes to be amended to reflect this. JP requested that APs are not closed down before it has been confirmed that the matter has been properly dealt with. Although this forum may take the necessary action to forward issues on to the relevant parts of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the issues are not always dealt with as timeously as expected and so need to be followed up. It was agreed that all previous action points could be closed (only number 19 was still open) and that a fresh sheet would be started.
DM gave a brief update on the Employer Transformation Project in order that the forum could be assured that progress was being made. He advised the forum that both qualitative and quantitative external research had been carried out with employers of differing sizes across the country to determine how HMRC could improve its service to employers. Findings from this research are due during April. Meanwhile, consultants have been working on pointing the way ahead strategically and results from this piece of work will be shared with the forum at a later date.
Two main themes were emerging from the research with employers:
Sam Shelley from Individual Customers Unit (ICD) presented this topic by circulating round the group two fact sheets prepared for:
Research has shown that these two groups in particular are least aware of their National Insurance and tax obligations. The pre-pensioners fact sheet pilot was carried out with Prudential customers and Essex County Council staff followed by a survey of 30,000 HMRC customers ( response rate just under10,000) and produced very positive feedback.
The fact sheets will be rolled out after the implementation of MPPC and whilst no further feedback is required about the Pension fact sheet, although it is still a work in progress, SS was keen to get feedback from the Forum about the New to Work Fact sheet.
Some work has already been done with small employers who felt that the people they dealt with were already aware of the information. The new to work fact sheet pilots were carried out with MacDonald’s and Chelsea and Westminster staff and who felt that the sheet was altogether too busy and perhaps a bit muddled. Feedback from TDSF was that large employers felt they could insert it in their starter packs for new employees, small employers felt they could use it themselves as a check list but medium sized employers felt that it would be too expensive for them to reproduce though it was acknowledged that many employees expect employers to advise them about tax and National Insurance matters rather than find out for themselves.
Immediate feedback from the forum covered the following points:
The forum went on to consider how to best circulate this information to catch people before they started work:
Action point: SS to send VG collated feedback comments plus electronic versions of fact sheets so that ECF reps can feedback any further comments. Deadline for this feedback is 20 April.
Ian Atkin presented this topic.
Following a lot of feedback about the inadequacies of the Data Provisioning Service (DPS), HMRC has developed the PDV as an alternative way for employers and agents to download codes and notices. Customers will down load the PDV application and install it on their own computer. In the last six months we have worked with a developer and customers on the design and testing of PDV to make sure it provides employers with the right functions. PDV enhances the DPS Portal Viewer by giving simple views of codes and notices, an improved search facility and the showing codes as either ‘Actioned’ or ‘Unactioned. These enhancements mean that PDV does not have to replicate the problematic seven day window. One new function to be included is an import/export which will allow the main user (an administrator) to transfer codes and notices to another user (a sub-administrator) in their organisation. An administrator will be able to download codes and notices from HMRC but the sub-administrator will only have access to information passed down by the administrator.
DPS is for those employers currently use the portal but find it difficult
or impractical and those who have not yet used online options for downloading
codes. It is not aimed at those employers who already download codes and notices
online through enabled third party software. PDV operates one way in that
it allows agents and employers to get tax codes. It cannot be used to send
information to HMRC.
It has full accessibility options and archiving/restore and delete options. It has been tested for compatibility with Windows and Mac. It replicates the current portal facility to download codes and notices as a .csv file which can be read in Excel.
Development work on the application has finished and PDV is ready to use. We had planned to carry out a live trial with 21 users in January /February 2009 but that was not possible. We are looking for an early general release date that meets customer and HMRC needs and we will let ECF members know as soon as the release date has been decide and our publicity plans.
There was a query about how to retrieve information following download if the computer subsequently crashed. This was not seen as a problem as it is not a server based application but IA took an action point to confirm this.
Action point: IA to query what happens if computer crashes once download has already taken place. Can information be downloaded again?
Action point: IA to investigate whether PDV can be loaded on to a server.
(As the previous items had not taken as long as envisaged, any other business items were addressed before the break for lunch.)
Caroline Elvin of DMB covered a few points which included:
Despatch started mid March. First batch had two problems:
Client name not printed on cover when issued to agent - but name shown on individual payslips.
Year and month number omitted from reference field on payslip - but period ending printed in top left hand corner.
Neither affects payment processing so no re-print of booklets to take place. What’s New published 20/3 telling customers all this.
Problems have been fixed and issue resuming - despatched to date 385K. No further problems have been identified and Aspire are confident in issuing booklets to monthly payers by 18/4 and quarterlies by 22/4.
Further What’s New to be published shortly asking customers to contact us (Tel 0845 366 7816) if they have not received their booklet by 5/5.
Several issues were raised in relation to payment by booklet and electronically:
Action point: CE to look into the issue of being able to opt for electronic payments when a new scheme is set up.
Action point: CE to investigate why new customers not advised where to send remittances.
Action point: CE to enquire whether AO and references could be added to the client information screen on the website.
Government Banking Programme (GBP)
GBP have deliberately been low-key in the run up to new banking arrangements for 09-10 payments; their concern being that payments would be sent to prematurely to RBS (Bank Giro payments) and Citi (Direct Payments). New bank sort codes have been publicised on P30B (paying electronically letter) and GBP will be ramping up further publicity very soon. Transitional arrangements are in place for payments sent to old bank account post April 2009.
The point was made that HMRC need to publicise better the new arrangements for banking. CE advised that publicity would be ramped up as 6 April approaches but agreed to forward on details to the forum so that they could in turn advise their members.
There was reminder that remittances due for March but payable on 19 April should be made under the old banking arrangements. The change from 6 April is for all remittances due for 2009-10.
Action point: CE to send VG details of changes in banking arrangements from 6 April so they can be sent to forum members.
(RIS) Return pursuit
18K reminders issued 29 January - 6 February for 07-08 returns. High call volumes lead to some customers experiencing difficulty in speaking to office (Canterbury RIS); letter volumes were reduced accordingly. Also Canterbury had power failure so no telephone facilities for 1.5 days.
20 per cent of responses were claims to have already filed. Output suspended as a result. Outbound calls now being made and staff are checking systems for evidence of receipt and requirement to file beforehand, closing down schemes where appropriate to do so.
Business Payment Support Service (BPSS)
CE advised that 11,500 businesses have taken up the time to pay arrangements, the largest take up being on the VAT side.
A point was raised about a scenario where an employer had deferred payment, employees were being made redundant and when seeking to claim benefit, were being told by Job Centre Plus staff, that there was no entitlement as the employer had deferred payment of tax and National Insurance. Concerns were raised. Firstly the issue as to how this could affect individuals’ entitlement to benefits and secondly there was an issue of confidentiality as employees should not know that their employer had applied for time to pay arrangements.
Action point: DM to investigate matter concerning refusal of Job Centre Plus staff knowing that an employer has applied for deferred payment under BPSS and as a result refusing redundant workers any benefit on the basis that no National Insurance paid over for them to qualify.
Following any other business, there was an announcement that the building was to be closed due to ongoing lack of power, there having been an electricity failure three hours previously.
It was agreed that the two agenda items still to be addressed - external publicity and the MPPC and Carter update would be carried forward to the next meeting and meanwhile any updates received would be forwarded to forum members.
Carter update (received after meeting closed)
The next meeting will be held at 10.30 am on 18 June 2009 in room G23, Bush House.