The annual survey by the Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB) received a record number of responses. Burdens on business remain a significant concern and continue to increase.

ABAB has published the findings from its annual Tell ABAB survey for 2022/23. ABAB received almost 7,500 responses, a significant increase on the average of about 3,000.

The key finding is that burdens on business remain a significant concern and they continue to increase year on year. The specific areas identified as contributing to that burden include the off-payroll working rules, making tax digital and changes in importing and exporting procedures. Businesses state that they have not yet witnessed the benefits of digitalisation.

An important message that will resonate with many ICAEW members is that respondents continue to express a strong desire to speak to a human HMRC adviser. Satisfaction levels on response times for telephone calls remain low, with respondents being dissatisfied with this service for that reason. When asked whether they would consider interacting with HMRC through alternative channels, such as YouTube, Skype, Webchat and SMS, 26% said that they would ‘definitely not’ use these channels, with a further 11% answering ‘possibly not’. Only 3% said they would ‘definitely’ use these channels, and 9% said they ‘probably’ would.

ABAB reports that there is evidence from the survey that guidance for business is improving. Many respondents rated the ease of understanding written correspondence and the information on YouTube videos highly. While there are still problematic HMRC forms, the numbers are relatively low and although there are remaining frustrations with GOV.UK, these are also relatively low. It is notable that the VAT registration form is mentioned for the first time as being problematic.

ABAB will present its annual report covering all of its work for 2023 to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in December 2023. In that report, it will review HMRC’s progress and performance against the priorities ABAB set in 2022.

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