HMRC resilience requires focus on data, technology
The Government signals a need to focus investment on data and technology in order to make HMRC more prepared for future disruptive events, as it celebrates resilience of tax system over the past year.
Speaking at the annual HMRC stakeholder conference, Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, highlighted that the organisation had demonstrated unprecedented agility noting that the Job Retention Scheme had paid out more than £53 billion over the period, protecting 11.2 million jobs, alongside the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, which has issued almost £20 billion to a further 2.7 million people.
This "agility" reflected the success of HMRC's 10-year tax administration strategy, but the Minister noted that this strategy would need to respond to the experience of the pandemic.
"We’re trying to think about the future as well and to learn and to reflect on the experience of the past few months," said Norman. "Improving the resilience and the effectiveness of the tax system over the next decade - that’s the core goal for us. We can’t take for granted that future events are going to bear a fixed or known relationship to the past. No one can predict the precise nature of future events."
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Calling for "optionality" and "resilience", he detailed that this would need to be enabled by further investment in data and technology, with digitisation and real time information being "two pillars" supporting greater flexibility at HMRC as an organisation.
Another aspect of resilience was the continued roll-out of HMRC's successful Making Tax Digital programme, extending the service to smaller VAT-registered businesses and income tax self-assessment for business and landlords with income over £10,000.
£500 million has already been committed to expanding Making Tax Digital, and in March a further £68 million was announced to take forward work on building an easily accessible and secure system of single digital accounts.
Providing users with real time information on their tax position will enable them to have "a more up-to-date understanding of what’s going on, and greater capacity to assess risks in their own lives or in their own businesses," said Norman.
This builds on other recent announcements from the signalling the development of pan-Government identity assurance.