HM Revenue & Customs officials are to gain hands-on experience of life in small businesses courtesy of ‘Business Buddy’, a Forum of Private Business initiative that has already seen more than 70 politicians placed in firms in their constituencies.
In the first-ever HMRC visit, staff will spend time at Sinnett & Tansley, a firm of Chartered Accountants in Reading.
Last year, high-profile political Business Buddy placements included Business Secretary and Twickenham MP Vince Cable at a furniture manufacturer, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham at a chemical factory in his Leigh constituency and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, who took to the tills at a fruit and vegetable shop in Brighton.
The scheme is being repeated this year and widened to include HMRC staff, who have signed up to the initiative in order to develop a greater understanding of the trials, tribulations and opportunities facing small business owners in order to improve working relationships with them.
“Clearly, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience. We are widening the Business Buddy scheme so that HMRC officials can take part in order to gain a greater understanding of what it takes to grow and run a small firm, and also explore how they can work together more effectively, for the good of the economy as a whole,” says the Forum’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford.
Business owners taking part in the 2011 scheme were asked to complete a survey about their experiences. In all, 87 percent of respondents said that the state of the economy was a major issue they discussed with their local political representative.
In addition, 66 percent of respondents cited ‘local business issues’ on their doorsteps as a leading topic of conversation, 66 percent mentioned regulation in general and 61 percent consumer and business confidence. Other areas of concern included levels of taxation, health and safety regulation and workforce skills.