Media and politics

On Wednesday, Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson led a Westminster Hall debate on support for three million self-employed workers ruled ineligible for the government’s Coronavirus support schemes.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee held a session on HMRC’s Annual Report on Monday 7 December.  The witnesses were HMRC CEO Jim Harra, Penny Ciniewicz, Director General, Head of Customer Compliance at HMRC and Jonathan Russell CB, Interim CEO, Valuation Office Agency.

The UK has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to craft and simplify VAT and customs duties after Brexit, agreed tax experts at a CIOT/IFS ‘virtual’ debate on ‘VAT and Customs Duties after Brexit’.

If the government chooses to raise taxes as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, it should go for a one-off wealth tax, says a commission of experts.

Report on the 2020 Scottish National Party Conference (online) – 28 – 30 November 2020.

The SNP were the last of the major parties to hold their autumn conference, with an online gathering that began on 28 November and concluded on St. Andrew’s Day, 30 November, with an address to delegates from Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

As with other recent SNP conferences, detailed discussions on tax policy were absent from the main agenda. Nevertheless, a headline-grabbing policy announcement from the first minister, together with some mentions across a smattering of debates and fringe events, as well as recent debates in the Scottish Parliament – help give us an indication of the party’s approach to tax policy in the lead up to next May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

MPs debated the Work and Pensions Committee’s report on the response of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to COVID-19, last Thursday (26 November).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is looking at what happens at the UK Border when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. The Committee has questioned senior officials from a number of government departments on the Government’s preparedness for the end of the transition period.

The House of Commons Treasury Committee held an evidence session on Wednesday 18 November as part of its inquiry into Tax after Coronavirus. The inquiry is examining the tax system following the reconstruction of the economy after the unprecedented economic fallout of the pandemic.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee held a session with representatives of HMRC and the Treasury on Thursday 12 November 2020 as part of its inquiry into COVID-19 and employment. The hearing focused on the job support schemes implemented since the start of the pandemic. Witnesses from HMRC at this session were Jim Harra, Chief Executive, and Jo Rowland, Temporary Director General, COVID-19 Response Unit. Witnesses from the Treasury were Beth Russell, Director General for Tax and Welfare, and Sir Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary. The MPs referred to a recent NAO report ‘Implementing employment support schemes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’, but the questions and comments covered a much wider area.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held a meeting on Monday 16 November 2020 with HMRC officials Jim Harra (Chief Executive), Angela MacDonald (Deputy Chief Executive) and Justin Holliday (Chief Finance Officer). The meeting was PAC’s annual look at HMRC’s Standard Report and the department’s annual report and accounts.