It might be winter outside but there’s a spring in our step after a very productive period of work on the Agent Strategy. There’s still work to do but I wanted to give you a quick update on where we are.
Our Journey Together
In 2011, we consulted on our Agent Strategy and published the responses. We held workshops and attended events across the UK throughout 2012, including talking to IT specialists to better understand your digital needs. This developed through 2013 into more detailed practical working with agent representatives in a number of groups.
The groups are working with us to come up with solutions around how the new digital services will work for agents, how we move from existing systems to new ones and how we know what good looks like for the customer, agent and HMRC. Part of that isunderstanding what the statistics from HMRC systems tell us and don’t tell us.
What’s it all about?
The most popular request we had from the consultation is the ‘Agent Online Self Serve’. This will be a new online service that will give you access to HMRC on behalf of your clients and see the information they can see. No more wrestling with the 64-8 paper and online processes. Over the next couple of years it will be easier, quicker and simpler to give us and receive the information we all need.
Agent Online Self Serve will ensure you can continue to act on behalf of your clients through digital channels once we’ve confirmed your identity and that you’re authorised to act. We are exploring how the identity assurance processes will work, and how agents and a potential customer can then identify each other online as supplier and customer. This will enable an individual or business to identify the agent they are authorising and the agent to activate the client relationship, all online. We have to balance being able to give legitimate agents access to do their client’s business with HMRC as quickly and effectively as possible and also preserve confidentiality, prevent inappropriate disclosure and guard against criminal attacks. So we are working with the cross-government work on Identity Assurance, to ensure that agents come through a robust assurance process and into our new digital services.
We are also working very closely with agent professional bodies on the Joint Tax Agent Strategy Steering Group to explore what ‘Agent and Client Statistics’ can tell us about industry standards. We are running a number of small pilots to use data to target tailored support and education to agents that would benefit the most. Does supporting an agent with education, toolkits and so on result in improved performance? How can we recognise and sign up to what ‘good’ looks like together? What do you think?
We have started to share some screen shots of the new agent service with a few agents. As we progress we will ask more agents to test the functions, to tell us what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing, where the terminology doesn’t cut it for you and so on.
As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be getting on with and lots of questions to be answered!
What do you need to know about the Agent Strategy and Agent Online Self Serve?