Odette Gibson of leading hospitality industry accountants, Volensis, said that the HMRC’s decision to scrap their 281 Enquiry Centres will put yet more pressure on licensees and they’ve chosen exactly the wrong time to do make the cuts”.
From 2014, the face-to-face centres will go, being replaced by call centres, prompting a call from Odette for a u turn: “It’s hard enough for licensees without taking yet another resource away from them – as if they don’t have enough to do they’ll now have to face lengthy holding on a phone for help and if my experience with call centres is anything to go by, a lack of continuity that will try anyone’s patience. My sympathy with licensees is well-documented, after all, what other business requires you to be a food and drink expert, marketing expert, customer service expert, bookkeeper and even a cleaner? Moreover, the timing of this announcement of this couldn’t be worse – the HMRC are putting greater pressure on business owners and the pub sector in particular can expect greater attention and enforcement”.
Odette added: “The face-to-face centres helped people when they fell into difficulties or needed practical help – let’s face it, we can’t all be experts on tax. I believe that taking away this resource will result in more licensees getting into trouble as a result of them not being able access the right advice. Another major concern I have is that this ‘arms-length’ approach to tax will mean that advisors fail to better understand the business and those running it – leading to sub-standard advice. I expect an increase in business for licensed trade accountants, who will fulfil that need for face-to-face contact and advice:.
13 Enquiry Centres will be closed as part of the pilot, at Alnwick, Bishop Auckland, Bridlington, Hexham, Darlington, Durham, Middlesbrough, Morpeth, Newcastle, Scarborough, Stockton, Sunderland and York.
For more information call Volensis on 020 7267 3355
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