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Wednesday 1 August 2018 – 13:30

Every month AAT highlights some of the key Public Affairs & Public Policy activities undertaken on behalf of our 140,000 members.

Below you will find some key highlights for July 2018.

If you would like any further information about any of these issues, please contact Phil Hall, AAT Head of Public Affairs & Public Policy via twitter or via email.

Professional Standards & Strategy Intern Wows Parliament

Deborah Owoyemi joined Professional Standards and Strategy in July, spending her first two weeks in Public Affairs & Public Policy.

Deborah visited Parliament to meet Chris Stephens MP to discuss AAT members concerns around HMRC staff numbers and training but also managed to squeeze in some questions about zero hours contracts. So impressed was the Scottish National Party MP that he walked to the Vote Office to obtain his draft Bill on the issue so that Deborah could leave with a copy.

Deborah also went to the APPG on Women & Work to hear about some of the ongoing problems faced by women in the workplace, followed by a quick zip around the fascinating Women’s Place in Parliament exhibition. 

As well as producing high quality work on alternatives to tax rises and listening to several Select Committee evidence sessions, Deborah helped across the department and proved to be a real asset. 

Small business

As 60% of AAT’s 140,000 members work for or own their own small or medium sized business, and as AAT prides itself on being a responsible business, our relationship with the Minister for Small Business & Corporate Responsibility is an important one.

Having met with the previous Minister on two occasions in July – to discuss productivity and responsible business issues – and begun to establish a useful working relationship, his resignation could be considered unfortunate. However, the new Small Business & Corporate Responsibility Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP, has already agreed to meet and so AAT looks forward to continuing to effectively promote and protect members interests in this area.  

Rent a room relief

Do you rent out your spare room on Airbnb or another similar platform and make use of the £7,500 rent a room tax relief? From April 2019 you will only be able to do this if you remain present in the property thanks to what the Treasury describes as a “shared occupancy” test.

AAT has discussed the issue with Airbnb, the Intergenerational Fairness Foundation and officials at the Treasury to highlight the unnecessary complexity and bureaucracy this will bring. We have urged Government to think again. Our views on the issue have also been covered in the trade media.

AAT Consultation, Call for Evidence & Inquiry responses

AAT provided a forthright response to the Government review of the Financial Reporting Council which caught the attention of The Times.

A robust submission on IR35 and off-payroll working in the private-sector has also been sent to the Treasury. A short AAT response has been submitted to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry into whether the Government should scrap the RPI inflation measure.

These, and more, can be read in full here: AAT Public Policy responses

AAT Digital Advisory Panel 

The panel features individuals from Microsoft, Sage, Xero and HMRC as well as representatives from the banking and insurance industries, regulators and of course a couple of AAT licensed accountants for good measure.

Skills, competitiveness and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation were discussed but perhaps the most significant issue was Cyber Security. 

The most recent DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey reported that approximately half of all businesses have identified at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months. This can cost businesses substantial sums and yet still most SMEs – including high street accountancy firms – are failing to invest in cyber security. This year, AAT has updated its practice assurance reviews, highlighted the issue in member newsletters and magazine articles and had professionals from the National Cyber Security Centre speaking at its annual conference. The panel discussed what more could and should be done.

Other events, meetings and engagement

  • Philip Augur, who is leading a Government review into student finance (both FE and HE) was pleased to hear about AAT’s views on the subject 
  • AAT discussed digital skills for future generations with Susan Bowen, Chair of TechUK and Vice-President of Cogeco
  • FT Alphaville journalist Jemima Kelly was impressed by AAT’s views on taxing robots at a CSFI roundtable event on FinTech. The issue has been covered in the accountancy press and rather impressively on Twitter here
  • AAT continues to engage with Companies House in seeking to provide a better service to members and their clients and has committed to holding regular meetings with members of their senior leadership team
  • Several discussions took place with the CBI, in relation to our consultation responses on off-payroll workers (IR35) the Financial Reporting Council and the reform of business rates working group on which AAT is represented
     

Source: AAT News

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