HMRC site to move to gov.uk despite several errors

by Calum Fuller

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30 Oct 2012

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THE HM REVENUE & CUSTOMS WEBSITE is to move from its current domain to a newly created gov.uk domain from March next year.

Since it was launched on a pilot basis last week, the taxman has received criticism from the accounting profession over mistakes on the site and the cost of implementing it.

In particular, technical details appeared to be located in the wrong areas of the site, and at times users were requested to supply the wrong information.

A spokesman for the taxman said HMRC's website, as well as other government departments and a handful of agencies, "will migrate to the new gov.uk platform, in line with Cabinet Office requirements".

"The plan for these websites is for corporate content and most of the detailed guidance to be on gov.uk by March 2013, with the remainder moved by December 2013," he said.

"HMRC have worked closely with the Government Digital Service (GDS) towards the launch of gov.uk, including delivering the smooth transition of businesslink.gov.uk, for which HMRC have been responsible since 2007-08. We continue to work with GDS to transfer additional material across in later phases."

Merging the online presence requires a significant amount of information being transferred, which can potentially lead to data being lost or altered.

While many accountancy professionals may be able to identify errors, many members of the public will encounter difficulties if such issues are not tackled early, said ACCA head of SME policy Rosana Mirkovic.

She said: "We've been alerted to the issues with gov.uk advice and can't help but sympathise with accountants' strong reactions online. It's really disappointing to see this happen, when in principle the idea of reducing duplication and delivering savings is sound.

"While accountants may find it easy to spot places where the guidance is weak or factually wrong, three-quarters of all SMEs in the UK don't have a financially trained person in charge of their finances."

"Reassurance" is required that government guidance will not be replaced by "more generic, and especially inaccurate, advice", she added.

"We're confident that gov.uk will prove to be a great resource once this matter has been dealt with." 

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