Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB)

The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board's goal is to make a noticeable difference for small business by supporting HM Revenue and Customs to help make tax easier, quicker and simpler.

The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB) is an independent board consisting of members from a range of business backgrounds and professions who represent the small business community.

ABAB was established in 2006 and comes together to provide valuable business insight and expertise to HMRC, acting as a ‘critical friend’ against aims to deliver commitments made in Making tax easier, quicker and simpler for small business. ABAB also challenge HMRC on their performance, providing robust, independent scrutiny against key initiatives that impact on small business experience.

With their vast business experience ABAB members are well placed to ‘tell it like it is’ to HMRC when it comes to delivering a simpler and easier tax system for small businesses.

Since 2006 ABAB has helped HMRC to deliver significant administrative burden savings for businesses; offering expert advise in the government’s delivery of initiatives such as the ‘Simpler Income Tax’. ABAB has contributed to HMRC’s refresh of its small business strategy, ensuring that the strategy reflects the needs of the very smallest businesses.

Other recent ABAB successes include the identification and removal of the end-of-year checklist that was required to be completed by employers, and lobbying HMRC to extending an easement period to allow small businesses further time to comply with the ‘On or Before rules’.

How we work

  • ABAB holds quarterly meetings with HMRC to discuss their performance and key initiatives that impact on business experience
  • Engage practically with HMRC on big issues affecting small business, currently:
    • Making Tax Digital
    • The delivery of the Customer Cost Reduction Target (£400m)
    • Overall delivery of business customer experience
  • Listen to and understand small businesses and their representative bodies’ concerns and work with HMRC to help improve them
  • Provide feedback and critically assess HMRC performance against its commitments

Seeking your ideas: tell us what HMRC can do differently

ABAB wants to hear from small businesses on how HMRC can simplify and improve tax administration. We can’t fundamentally change the tax system (simplification of the tax system is being progressed by the Office of Tax Simplification – and we support them in this work), but the insight and understanding, particularly around issues currently causing small business unnecessary problems, will help us work with HMRC to influence and target future improvements in the way it is administered.

If you would like to send ABAB your views, please complete our online survey.

In addition to this, ABAB from time to time will publish ad hoc, targeted surveys in order to hear your views on specific and important issues that are impacting on the experience of small businesses. Look out for these surveys and the follow up results here on this page.

Recent ‘Tell ABAB’ reports

Tell ABAB report - 2016 to 2017 (PDF, 724KB, 7 pages)

Tell ABAB report – 2015 to 2016 (PDF, 622KB, 18 pages)

Summary of feedback 2014 to 2015 (PDF, 381KB, 5 pages) Previous report from 2014 to 2015 feedback.

View from ABAB

In 2012, ABAB’s mandate to provide external scrutiny was strengthened to directly report our assessment of HMRC’s performance to Treasury ministers. ABAB does this through annual reports, which review our progress against our yearly priorities and the areas we engage with HMRC.

See below for our recent annual reports:

Administrative Burdens Advisory Board Annual Report 2017

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Administrative Burdens Advisory Board Annual Report 2016 (PDF, 313KB, 10 pages)

Letter from Teresa Graham to David Gauke, 4 April 2016 (PDF, 63.2KB, 1 page)

Administrative Burdens Advisory Board Annual Report 2015 (PDF, 367KB, 9 pages)

Letter from Teresa Graham to David Gauke, 19 March 2015 (PDF, 68KB, 1 page)

ABAB Annual Report 2014 (PDF, 796KB, 8 pages)

PAYE Real Time Information (RTI)

To coincide with HMRC’s publication of a revised Taxes Impact and Information Note (TIIN), which reflects the department’s finalisation of estimates of the costs and benefits of RTI implementation, ABAB has written to the Financial Secretary Letter from Teresa Graham to David Gauke MP (PDF, 297KB, 4 pages) to register its views on those revised estimates and in particular to welcome the associated lessons learnt.

Membership

ABAB is made up of individuals who run small businesses as well as representatives (in their private capacity) from bodies that understand tax, serve small businesses and know and understand their needs.

The Advisory Board is chaired by Teresa Graham CBE who is a non-executive director of a number of small businesses and the former deputy chair of the Better Regulation Commission.

Advisory Board members:

  • Teresa Graham - Chair
  • Paul Aplin
  • Malcolm Bacchus
  • Rebecca Benneyworth
  • Alastair Keir
  • Paul Morton
  • Dan Olley
  • Violetta Parylo
  • Graham Rogers
  • Roger Southam
  • Karen Thomson
  • John Whiting

Meeting minutes

Minutes: 12 October 2017

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Minutes: 6 July 2017 (PDF, 316KB, 7 pages)

Minutes: 13 April 2017 (PDF, 314KB, 7 pages)

Minutes: 7 February 2017 (PDF, 317KB, 8 pages)

Previous minutes are held on The National Archives website:

Terms of reference

ABAB supports HMRC to improve its customer experience for small businesses; making it easier, quicker and cheaper for small businesses to deal with the tax system.

ABAB provides external and independent expertise and support:

  • bringing their own relevant business, commercial and professional experience, networks, expertise and insight to customer’s issues, as well as direct feedback from small businesses and representative bodies
  • helping HMRC to identify and prioritise areas for action
  • acting as a sounding board and critical friend to HMRC to solve particular issues affecting small businesses
  • supporting HMRC in the further development of its small business strategy (particularly in the customer experience area)
  • monitoring and critically assessing HMRC’s overall progress (over period 2015 to 2020) against its commitments to improve the customer experience for small businesses
  • reporting as ABAB sees appropriate on the above progress or other relevant issues to HM Treasury ministers and HMRC Executive Committee, as well as producing an annual report
  • examining (through a structured work programme of specific projects) particular aspects of the tax system for small businesses, or elements of HMRC’s small business strategy, and producing, in conjunction with HMRC, proposals for improvements
  • taking full account of, and appropriately supporting, relevant work of the Office of Tax Simplification
  • acting as a critical friend to other government departments on issues that affect small business

Annex to terms of reference

Membership

HMRC provides secretariat functions for the Advisory Board. The group will meet every quarter for around half a day and some of its business will be carried out electronically. Members of the Board will also provide support to HMRC working and consultative groups as needs arise.

The group will be made up of individuals who run their own small businesses and include representatives from bodies that understand tax, serve small businesses and know and understand their needs. Membership will be refreshed as required to fully reflect the needs of these businesses.

Reporting

At quarterly meetings the Advisory Board will monitor and review HMRC’s progress (over period 2015 to 2020) on making a noticeable difference for small businesses, and HMRC’s overall progress against commitments to improve the customer experience for them. The group will report to Ministers and the HMRC Executive Committee as required. Minutes of Advisory Board meetings will be published on this page.

Confidentiality

All information and papers that HMRC shares with ABAB members will be shared in confidence unless they are already in the public domain or confidentiality restrictions have been expressly lifted.

Terms

Membership of the Advisory Board will be unpaid and carry with it no right to pension or gratuity on termination.

Contact details

asif.bukhsh@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk