Hewitt makes payroll U-turn.

E-minister Patricia Hewitt has confirmed that the government is to scrap its small business payroll voucher scheme in favour of extra support from the Inland Revenue. Hewitt said this week that a new employers support helpline scheme run by the Revenue will instead come into force from April. It had been expected that the voucher scheme would come into being after it was proposed in a consultation paper last year. But Hewitt has now confirmed that the government will not be proceeding with the voucher scheme because of the results of the consultation period and ‘market research’. However, the minister denied the payroll voucher scheme did not go far enough in providing the assistance that new employers want. She said that the most pressing concern for small business, was ease of use in understanding payroll regulations. Ministers decided the Revenue was best equipped to provide this support. The scheme will now offer a helpline for new employers, locally based business support teams and one-to-one visits – including a check of payroll systems to employers. Hewitt set out the details of the scheme in a letter to Access Accounts. But the company’s corporate projects manager Kevin Misselbrook said the government ‘was making a mistake’ and the scheme was being dropped ‘because of bureaucratic problems’. He added: ‘We are convinced the voucher scheme would have been the best choice.’ Responses to the consultation paper on the voucher scheme included the British Chamber of Commerce stating that ‘it was a small step in the right direction’. The Forum of Private Business added: ‘The voucher scheme has the advantage that accountants would make the service known.’

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