The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Roger a Hughes is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Roger a Hughes
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | ROGER A HUGHES
Director Roger Hughes
Roger A Hughes’ professional background is firmly founded on
taxation. After beginning his professional life working in local
tax offices of the Inland Revenue in the 1960s, he moved to
a major high street bank before joining a leading firm of chartered
accountants in 1971. He started his own business in 1986 and
continued as a sole trader until he established Roger A Hughes
Ltd in 2014. The firm’s client base combines a broad spectrum
of accounting and taxation affairs – from personal to corporate,
and from small firms to medium-sized enterprises – in addition to
ad hoc assistance when required. Roger talks in detail about the
changes in the tax system over the years and their consequences.
The certainty of change
Change for its own sake is not strictly necessary, but the preparation of this article
has provided me with the opportunity to look back over the course of my professional
career and reconsider the various ways government initiatives, legislation and
technology, in combination, have brought monumental changes to the field.
I recalled the introduction of corporation tax to replace profits tax, VAT replacing
purchase tax and in turn the amalgamations of various government departments into
the giant leviathans we do battle, sorry, work with on a daily basis.
It seems that these changes have moved at an alarming rate over the last few
years, but it won’t be long until the current generation, too, begin to reflect on the
changes that have happened in their time. My youngest son assures me technological
advances can be split into three broad categories. There are those inventions from
before we were born, which, for us, have always been there. For me, this includes
television and radio, motor cars, and the humble landline telephone. Then come the
new inventions up to around the time we hurtle into middle age. These are the most
exciting and useful components of life that we come across and will revolutionise life
– in my case, things like email, satellite communication and the internet. Then come
the wave of advances in our senior years, which seem to many of us to be pointless,
impossible to use and which never catch on – but they do.
Where we are today
One of the most significant technological changes I have seen in my professional
life in recent years is the increasing move to online accounting and reporting. It is
now a requirement that some taxes are reported in “real time”, and penalties can
be automatically applied for non-compliance. The move to Making Tax Digital is well
underway, and the online accounting software market is booming. Personal experience
demonstrates that our roles are no longer preparing accounts and returns at different
stages throughout the financial year, but are instead becoming increasingly involved in
the present. I have noticed that our clients increasingly want information in real time
too, and quite rightly so, as it helps them to manage their cash flow and liabilities.
AT A GLANCE
ROGER A HUGHES
»Director: Roger Hughes
»Established in 2014
»Based in Aldington, Kent
»Services: Accountancy and tax
»No. of employees: 3
»Roger met his wife, Adelaide,
when both worked at Ashford
Roger A Hughes
31ROGER A HUGHES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
While online accountancy and
taxation software is efficient and
helps tremendously in dealing with
compliance and associated issues,
nothing beats personal contact with
clients or years of experience working
to help them, whether it’s a small tax
case or expanding their firm into a
limited company. I feel privileged that
some of my clients moved with me
when I became a sole practitioner in the
1980s. There are some I have worked
with for over 40 years and, even more
unbelievable to me, one will soon have
been a client for 50 years.
One advantage of being a small
company is that each client is known
personally, and not just in their
professional capacity as a business. It is
gratifying to stay involved with clients
and their companies long term and, in
several cases, when the next generation
take over and want us to continue
acting for them. We seek only to ensure
that we strike the right balance for our
clients, their businesses and ourselves.
Being able to help and to become
trusted confidants that our clients know
they can turn to is the greatest reward.
Staying true to our values
Over the years, I’ve had to refuse work
when it did not fall within the ethical
and moral framework on which the
practice was founded, and which
remains intact to this day. Recent high-
profile cases reported in the media
have hopefully dissuaded many from
entering into tax-avoidance schemes.
I maintain that if something looks or
sounds too good to be true, it probably
is. I was, however, asked to assist a
taxpayer who had become an enquiry
case with HMRC – the greatest and
most rewarding challenge to me was
endeavouring to reach a fair solution
that was acceptable to all parties, which
I am happy to say was the case in
There have been other occasions, of
course, when clients have needed help
outside of my capabilities, and I have
been able to draw upon relationships
with outside agencies for advice.
It is a pleasure to enjoy a sense of
camaraderie rather than rivalry, and
I am heartened that this seems to be
a pattern that is developing between
other firms, large and small.
Change provides the chance for all
parties to work together differently,
to find new ways to make things
better. The roll-out of Making Tax
Digital has been the subject of much
discussion with colleagues and clients.
We have spent considerable time this
year watching a countless stream
of webinars where presenters have
attempted to allay fears and encourage
us the transition will be smooth.
This reminded me that before the
introduction of self-assessment, HMRC
communicated examples of how this
then-new legislation would make it
easier for all and lead to the paperless
office of 2000. As I write, the paperless
office has so far proved somewhat
less successful than self-assessment,
but I genuinely believe we are moving
in the right direction, and this will be
expedited by the take-up of online,
cloud-based accounting software.
I hope that the move to Making Tax
Digital will also finally be the conduit
that makes our tax system fairer and
simpler for all. Successive governments
have attempted tax simplification.
However, when I consider the young
person beginning their professional
life as a graduate or trainee and the
decisions that have to be made as their
career progresses: employed, self-
employed, limited liability partnership,
partnership or limited company,
different tax treatments on profits
and dividends, loopholes, precedents,
and so on, it would be encouraging
to see a government resolve to take
decisive action. Perhaps once they have
completed Making Tax Digital, they
could begin Making Tax Simple.
Roger and his wife
Our roles are no
but are instead
involved in the
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.