Half of businesses have “negative” experience of HMRC, survey reveals

Just half of mid-sized businesses were positive about the quality of information available to them by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a survey reveals.

Of the companies surveyed, just 51 per cent had rated their overall experience of dealing with HMRC over the past 12 months as “positive”.

Mid-sized businesses that had only used digital means of contact (68 per cent) were more likely to be positive about their overall experience than those that had used both digital and non-digital channels (46 per cent).

With just 34 per cent of companies with 250 or more employees happy with HMRC, the survey found that businesses with significantly more workers were less likely to be positive about their overall performance.

According to the results, just 56 per cent of businesses rated HMRC’s tax transaction accuracy – the most important factor of good customer service, according to the respondents – positively.

Remarkably, just 46 per cent of mid-sized businesses expressed confidence in the way HMRC does its job.

One employer, with a business turnover of more than £10 million, said: “You struggle to get an answer to the question, which is a relatively specific question… You would expect the person at the HMRC end of the conversation to go, ‘okay, I know exactly what you mean, this is what you need to do’, or ‘this is how you would treat it’. Which as a company is frustrating because we’re trying to do the right thing but we’re not sure we’re getting good quality information.”

The full results from HMRC’s Mid-Size Business Survey 2015 can be found here.

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Calls to increase apprenticeship support and incentives for SMEs

A report published by the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses (FSB) has suggested that, under increased Government support, UK businesses could deliver approximately 1 million more apprenticeships.

According to the FSB, approximately one in four Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK currently employ apprentices – and a further one in four have their sights set on employing apprentices in the near future.

FSB chairman Mike Cherry said that the UK was facing a “make-or-break moment,” after a report suggested that, amongst Britain’s 4.7 million SMEs, there was potential to ‘double’ the number of apprenticeships on offer – should the Government successfully deliver increased support.

He said: “While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many more continue to be worried about the time and personal commitment required.

“Smaller businesses are taking on more apprentices than ever before. What’s more, a quarter of our members say they are considering employing an apprentice in the future.

“This presents a huge opportunity and is great news for vocational training, which has become an increasingly attractive option for young people put off by the rising cost and uncertain returns of a university degree.

“We need the Government to hit the right balance between incentives and support,” he said.

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