Accountancy Age exclusive: Treasury admits sop on Budget press releases

Accountancy Age has learned that Inland Revenue and Treasury officials collaborated to spin the Budget day announcements to cast the government in a better light.

On a draft Budget press notice titled REVBN2J, obtained by Accountancy Age, a mysterious note read: ‘Geoff – this and other heading changes are sop to make the BNs [budget notices] look less like PRs [press notices].’

The move has been viewed by the accountancy profession as an attempt to throw off the shackles of last year’s IR35 which achieved notoriety when the Revenue was plagued by problems over its attempts to reform personal service companies.

When asked what the cryptic message meant a Revenue spokesman said by renaming the notices, the government could say the Revenue has only put out 16 press releases this year rather than the 35 last year.

‘It is still the same amount of paper but it keeps the number of press releases down,’ the spokesman added.

Francesca Lagerberg, technical manager of the English ICA’s Tax Faculty, said: ‘They have just bundled all of the press releases up so you just get a stack of notices in one press release.’

Just last week the profession united against an attack by chancellor Gordon Brown on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ partner Peter Wyman for daring to criticise Whitehall’s Budget estimates.

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