Every day small businesses across the land are acting as unpaid administrators for HM Government and the burden is getting bigger and bigger. Looking at the time that I have spent in the last 12 months:
- Pensions auto –enrolment – researching, talking to advisors, filling in forms, providing information – 3 days
- Real Time Information payroll – including additional time sending reports and liaising with HMRC re their misallocation of payments/failure to give credit for Maternity Pay – 2 days
- Pre-employment right to work checks for new employees – 1 hour
- Government generated surveys – 2 days
- Money laundering checks on new clients and routine updates – 6 days
- Down time Health and Safety reviews/PAT testing etc – 1 day
- VAT returns – 4 days
- Other bits and pieces including keeping up to speed on changes – 3 days
Total: 22 days
Whilst these are only indicative, we are spending about a month a year on unproductive time caused either by HM Government requirements or its inefficiencies. We are not a complicated business so I dread to think how much time some businesses are spending either in time or professional fees.
So many times Government initiatives are heralded as helping to simplify things, but its systems just aren’t able to cope with it. On Real Time Information (RTI) alone, one part of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) acknowledged that it could see the maternity pay, but the debt collectors couldn’t. I heard myself saying “take me to court and I’ll take great pleasure in telling the world about HMRC’s inadequacies”. Even the National Audit Office says that its systems are “not fit for purpose”.
In the run up to an election, I would call for every political party to look at proposals to reduce this burden to business. Businesses are finding it tough enough in these rocky financial times and need to be left to getting on with earning money to pay their bills and their employees, not spending time acting as unpaid civil servants.