AAT Public Affairs & Public Policy activities (August 2018)

image: houses of parliament
Tuesday 4 September 2018 - 12:15

Every month AAT highlights some of the key Public Affairs & Public Policy activities undertaken on behalf of our 140,000 members.

Below you will find some key highlights for August 2018.

If you would like any further information about any of these issues, please contact Phil Hall, AAT Head of Public Affairs & Public Policy via twitter or via email.

Parliamentary engagment

Parliament may have been in recess but work with Peers and MPs didn’t take a back seat. Last month, AAT engaged with 17 politicians on subjects including IR35 (off payroll working) Stamp Duty, Executive Pay, ISA reform, the review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), Gender Pay Gap reporting, the new Centre of Data Ethics & Innovation and what measure of inflation Government should be using. 

Excessive Executive Pay?

Research from the High Pay Centre & CIPD showing an 11% pay increase for FTSE 100 Chief Executives hit the headlines in August. 

This provided another opportunity for AAT to express members views as we surveyed them on the issue back in 2017. 93% believed pay ratio reporting is not enough and that a mandatory pay ratio should be imposed instead. The most popular was a maximum of 20:1 as previously hinted at by both David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.

This also enabled us to promote the key features of our April 2018 consultation response on the subject. 

The Global Banking & Finance Review highlighted AAT’s position and several MPs expressed their interest and support for the stance our members have taken.

AAT’s own pay ratio – the difference between the highest paid and median paid employee – has been an impressive 5:1 every year since 2015.

Another new Individual Savings Account? 

Last month, the Sunday Telegraph revealed in a front page splash that the Treasury was considering a new “Care ISA” to address the social care funding crisis. It was hailed as being free from inheritance tax but was immediately rejected by senior MPs such as the Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health & Social Care committee. Media coverage rumbled on over the next few days.

AAT highlighted that our own ISA report made clear the time had come to reduce rather than increase the number of ISAs. We also pointed out that since 2015 all existing ISAs were free from inheritance tax for spouses and civil partners.

Our tweets to promote these views were seen by almost 10,000 people, and the author of the Telegraph story discussed the issue with us in Parliament.

We will further highlight our views if these proposals are officially consulted on via the forthcoming Green Paper on Social Care.

Business Rates

AAT had long argued for more frequent revaluations and a switch in the inflation measure used to calculate business rate increases. This has now been achieved with a switch from RPI to CPI taking place this year and a Government commitment to revaluations taking place every three years. AAT would now like to see a freeze in business rate increases whilst the whole system is comprehensively reviewed. In the longer term, we would also like to see revaluations taking place every year.

AAT sits on a CBI Working Group to help formulate their policy position on this issue and at the first meeting in August there was widespread support for the above.

Financial Reporting Council

The Government has commissioned Sir John Kingman to undertake a review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). AAT has responded to this call for evidence and our views were covered in The Times in July and the Financial Times in August. This has led to global interest with AAT last month being referenced in publications in Holland, Russia, South Africa and Australia.

AAT Consultations, Calls for Evidence & Inquiry responses

AAT had a technology heavy August with a detailed response to the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation about how AAT believes it should operate in the future and a comprehensive response to the new Commission on Workers & Technology established by the Fabian Society and Chaired by Yvette Cooper MP. Our consultation response on IR35 and Off-payroll working in the private sector was extensively covered in Computer Weekly.

Further to our comments in the media about the unwelcome nature of a new “shared occupancy” test for rent-a-room relief, AAT responded to the very short summer consultation on the subject, highlighting the unnecessary bureaucracy and complexity this test will create. 

Finally, as the issue of intergenerational fairness becomes an increasingly hot potato, AAT responded to the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness to recommend some tax and benefit policy changes that would be fairer, save money and ultimately prove more effective. 

These, and more, can be read in full here: AAT Public Policy responses

Other events, meetings and engagement

  • Discussions with the head of the Barclays Labs project resulted in an invitation to their LawTech Lab in Notting Hill to establish whether AAT may be able to assist with the establishment of an AccountancyTech Lab 
  • AAT has engaged with the Institute of Directors about increased company investment in technology and how best to secure this
  • Discussions with Sage, Be the Business and The Behavioural Insights Team took place about an Innovate UK Funding application to help increase technological take-up amongst the accountancy profession
  • AAT met with the SNP economics and tax team to talk about a wide range of AAT ideas on issues such as VAT, Stamp Duty, HMRC staffing levels, Inheritance Tax and rent a room relief
  • AAT is a member of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) which the Public Relations & Communications Association (PRCA) wishes to take over. Having discussed the issue with various other APPC members AAT supports the maintenance of an independent organisation committed to high standards and ethics in the public affairs industry – all members, including AAT, have a vote on the issue next month
  • AAT highlighted the merits of Informi, as well as having a licensed accountant, in a CBI piece about SME access to finance 
  • AAT discussed how AAT licensed accountants are utilising technology with Funding Options, an organisation that helps SMEs find finance when they’re unsuccessful with the major lenders.