A note of the meeting of the Welsh branch of Working Together with HM Customs & Excise on 26 February 2004 in Cardiff follows. The following is a brief note of the points and issues discussed.
Dave Brutnell, Deputy Head of Business Services Wales HMC&E
Tim Robinson, ICEAW
Dick Roberts-Thomas, VPG , IIT.
As you will see, the meeting was poorly attended by practioners and although this may in part have been due to the terrible weather conditions, it was none the less disappointing in that Customs had taken the WT initiative sufficiently seriously to be represented by a member of its Senior Management Team.
Dave Brutnell explained that both he and Frank Dover, HMC&E's Head of Business Services Wales, were keen to see the initiative moving forward as it should provide an excellent forum for discussion and feedback between the Department and local practioners. A number of "Chapters" which hold regular meetings had been set up in the South of England. These have proved very successful in that they have provided the Department with a platform for certain initiatives before introduction. This in turn has allowed pratitioners to provide their views on the effect of initiatives on the Business Community.
I understand that a number of modifications to proposed procedures have been made as a result of representations and feedback at these meetings. There is no reason why local WT Chapters could not be equally successful.
Dave also said that he was keen to have general feedback on how businesses viewed the activities of the Department in the day to day running of their businesses. He said that he had generally only seen positive feedback and glowing praise but he was realistic enough to know from his own experience that the Department could not get it right all the time. It was equally important to see where businesses perceived that the Department was getting it wrong so that the position could be rectified.However that was unlikely to be achieved if no one was prepared to come along and discuss the issues which concerned them. It followed that the rest of the meeting was devoted to seeing how we could move the process forward.
The following possibilities were discussed
1 Joint Presentations at the Annual Inland Revenue meetings with Practitioners
This was thought not to be a runner as this years meeting is to be held on 10 March so the timescale is probably too short. Furthermore in view of the relatively small numbers of staff in HMC&E compared with the Revenue it was felt that the meeting would be swamped by the Revenue and the Customs issues would be unlikely to have any prominence.
2 Articles in the local ICEAW Newsletter.
Tim Robinson agreed that he would draft an Article and pass it to David Lermon for inclusion in the next edition of the Newsletter. Such an article could be copied to the other bodies (CIOT, ACCA, CIMA, etc) so that they could circulate it to their Members. It is inevitable that all these bodies will have members who will have some dealings with HMC&E in one way or other.
3 Attending one of the regular local CIOT meetings
The CIOT hold regular monthly meetings between November and April each year. CIOT does not limit attendance only to it's members so this might be a way of publicising the WT initiative either through a full presentation or probably better as a 10 to 15 minute add on at the end of a regular meeting. Dick Roberts -Thomas undertook to contact CIOT to see what can be done.
NB I have subsequently left a message for Andy Mallett the current S Wales Chairman of CIOT to ask whether the April meeting would be suitable. I understand that the April meeting is a "meet the new CIOT national president" event so it may not be appropriate.
Finally we should be grateful if you can think of any way of increasing the interest in what should be a very helpful initiative for practioners.
Roberts-Thomas and Co
Tel. 029 20761768/20752112
Mobile 07850 441922
020 7235 9381