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 (HMRC) to help make tax easier, quicker and simpler.

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

ABAB was established in 2006 to provide valuable business insight and expertise to HMRC, acting as a ‘critical friend’ on issues relating to regulation and administration of tax for small businesses. ABAB also challenge HMRC on their performance, providing robust, independent scrutiny against key initiatives that affect small businesses.

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

Since 2006 ABAB has helped HMRC to deliver administrative burden savings for businesses; offering expert advice in the government’s delivery of initiatives on various new policies and guidance. ABAB contributes to HMRC’s small business strategy, ensuring it reflects the needs of the smallest business.

ABAB’s mandate to provide external scrutiny was strengthened in 2012. They directly report their assessment of HMRC’s performance to Treasury ministers via their annual report, published each spring. The report reviews HMRCs progress against ABAB’s yearly priorities and other areas of interest.

How we work

ABAB:

  • holds quarterly meetings with HMRC to discuss their performance and key initiatives that impact on business experience
  • engages practically with HMRC on big issues affecting small business, currently:
    • Making Tax Digital
    • improving customer experience
  • listens to and understands small businesses and their representative bodies’ concerns, and works with HMRC to help improve them
  • provides feedback and critically assess HMRC’s performance against its commitments

Seeking your ideas: tell us what you think

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 businesses 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 email advisoryboard.adminburden@hmrc.gov.uk.

What we’re doing - ABAB reports, and board minutes

Annual reports

Administrative Burdens Advisory Board annual report 2020

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Annual reports from 2014 to 2019 can be viewed on The National Archives website.

‘Tell ABAB’ reports

Tell ABAB report 2019 to 2020

Tell ABAB Report - 2018 to 2019 (PDF, 1.25MB, 11 pages)

Tell ABAB reports from 2014 to 2017 can be viewed on The National Archives website

Board meeting minutes

Minutes - 30 November 2020

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Minutes - 5 August 2020 (PDF, 180KB, 3 pages)

Minutes - 18 May 2020 (PDF, 221KB, 4 pages)

Minutes - 3 February 2020 (PDF, 197KB, 5 pages)

Previous minutes are held on The National Archives website:

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 Dame Teresa Graham DBE 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:

  • Dame Teresa Graham - Chair
  • Paul Aplin OBE
  • Malcolm Bacchus
  • Rebecca Benneyworth MBE
  • Bill Dodwell
  • Paul Morton
  • Violetta Parylo
  • Graham Rogers
  • Roger Southam
  • Karen Thomson
  • John Whiting CBE
  • Grainne Warner
  • Asif Ahmed

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:

  • acting as a critical friend to other government departments on issues that affect small business
  • 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 to HMRC to help 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 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’s 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

Annex to terms of reference

Membership

  • HMRC provides secretariat functions for the Advisory Board and Working Groups
  • The Board Members meets on quarterly basis
  • Members of the Board also provide support to HMRC working and consultative groups as needs arise
  • Membership will be refreshed as required to fully reflect the needs of businesses

Reporting

  • The Advisory Board review HMRC’s progress on making a noticeable difference for small businesses
  • They review their annual priorities and overall progress against their HMRC’s commitment to improve the customer experience
  • The group will annually 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

advisoryboard.adminburden@hmrc.gov.uk