David Gauke speaks at Payroll World

I usually attend the Payroll World Spring update conference every year but after a sales call from PW a few weeks earlier and being informed that MP and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke would be in attendance I decided to go to the Autumn update conference for the first time.

I wrote to David Gauke, my MP, in September last year and blogged about it here.  I wanted to know his opinion on Real Time Information (RTI) and if he shared my view that it was simply a stepping stone to Centralised Deductions.  He ignored my questions and wrote back that he’d written to Mr Bigshot at HMRC for more information and then he later forwarded the letter he received back from Mr Bigshot.

Well, it turns out after hearing him speak at Payroll World that RTI WAS ALL HIS IDEA, it’s true, that’s what he said, it was all his idea when he became shadow chancellor he wanted to modernise the PAYE system.  Well I’ll go t’foot of our stairs.

He also bigged up the scheme quoting some carefully selected statistics, like 91% of employers surveyed said Payroll End of Year takes less time.  Well of course it takes less time.  End of month routines take exponentially more time, I wonder how many employers pointed that out in the survey, 100% surely.

RTI is better for government because they get tax more quickly and it is being used live now for the new Universal Credit piloted in the North East of England.  He stated yet again the RTI was designed specifically for the purpose of introducing Universal credit.

He warned us that although they’ve been very kind and not fined us for late filing or late payments in the first year, 2014 will see the new penalty regime.  I’m sure I could see him salivating at the prospect of vastly more tax take in the form of penalties, although he claimed they didn’t want to pay down the deficit with penalty money.

He said using Intelligent Automation Technology (IAT) from April 2014 HMRC expect to recover an extra £280,000,000 from removing errors and fraud.  Sounds like something one Mr Snowden might leak to the Guardian. Then he described the Digital Portal that all individuals in the UK will have on the HMRC website, which will be fully up to date with what taxes HMRC think we’ve paid and what taxes HMRC think we should pay, he didn’t mention an ability in this digital portal for us to inform HMRC how much we are paying and why we are correct, assuming as these people do, the HMRC are correct and we the subjects are thieving scoundrels that lie and cheat and don’t pay our masters what is due.

So I will now speak on behalf of the new subject class, the scoundrella at the Payroll World Autumn update conference 2023, where the new brain implant app explains to us at all times, work to pay the government, pay on time, pay “correctly”, comply.

Anyway, it was good to hear David Gauke’s opinion on the matter and to see that he’s still a tit.

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Dealing with a threat of legal action

To my surprise and displeasure, I discovered 2 of my staff had responded to a letter of complaint threatening legal action this week.  I won’t knock them for showing initiative, but the response was aggressive, verbose and quoted endless contractual clauses.  Life is often frustrating and boring enough for both sides of a disagreement to be ploughing through waffle and obfuscation.

There’s a simple formula for composing a letter, to authority.  An authority can be anything that appears to be a profession, so something from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) or the DWP, (the Department for Work and Pensions), the police, or in this instance a person who will refer the letter to a solicitor.

Follow these steps:

  •           You bought something from us
  •           We explained the system
  •           You expected something outside of the agreement
  •           We don’t owe you any money
  •           There might be a solution
  •           Contact me for a chat so we can sort something out like sensible people

Then, you put into plain English the points above.  The points can be amended slightly to fit almost every circumstance.  Make one sentence, or at maximum a single paragraph, to make each point.  Whilst writing it, try to imagine you are writing a script for a BBC newsreader.

It should be borne in mind, that even if you (or your company) is not at fault, making a token gesture will not only avoid the expense of management time in dealing with the behemoth of a court system, it will more often than not result in tremendous good feeling from the aggravated party, they’ll probably end extolling the virtues of your brand forever.

If the above doesn’t prompt a dialogue that results in an amicable agreement then the future response is usually along the lines of; “sorry you have decided to go legal…..”


Please note:  This is advice from some bloke off the internet, take it for what it is.  If the threat of legal action is because you’ve done something horrendous, get a lawyer.

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Advice for Job Seekers – #1 and a bit – Get on Linkedin

Employment opportunity for Accounts Assistant or Reconciliation Clerk, Watford, Herts, UK.

Folks, I am looking for an accounts assistant but more specifically, a reconciler.  I work for an SME that has been affected, although not catastrophically, by the recession.  We don’t want to pay a recruiter’s fee, something we’ve not done since the heady days of 2007, but the problem is; I want this person like…..Yesterday.

So the first place I go to is Linkedin, even though I know it is largely populated by the high earning, the well qualified and arseholes.  What I want is a person who can really handle spreadsheets, someone who can copy and paste bank statement data along with payroll data and sort, manipulate, pivot and basically, well yes, reconcile.  So I go to the search field and type: (Payroll OR Accounts) AND (spreadsheets OR spreadsheet OR excel OR Lotus) AND (assistant OR junior OR clerk).  That’s a Boolean string just in case you were wondering.

But there aren’t a great many people at this level in their career that are on Linkedin yet and I have to ask, why?  If you are on the professional network that is Linkedin it shows you have ambition, it makes you available to recruiters and hell, even if you currently have a job that you are just, well, just satisfied with, it could lead to an approach from someone with a job that could progress you to where you want to be.  You don’t have to actively search these day, you can make yourself a passive candidate.

So get yourself on Linkedin, help me out.  Anyone reading this who lives within, let’s say, 20 miles of Watford, Herts, UK, and you’re looking for a steady job or a next career move, send me a message, leave a comment or message me on linkedin, after you’ve got your profile set up that is.

Posted in business, recruitment, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Syncing your iPhone to Outlook

I decided that it would be a good idea to sync my iPhone with my work email contacts, we use outlook and I expected to simply upload my contacts directory in outlook with my contacts directory in my phone.  Not an illogical expectation I think.

But no, when you sync your iPhone to outlook you import a contact record for everyone who’s ever sent you an email.  I’ve worked here for over 10 years, I’ve received a lot of emails, from people spamming me trying to sell the next big thing in recruitment to people sending me cv’s for job vacancies, and we’ve had a lot over the years.

My phone contacts are chock full of useless details now.  I can download an app for 0.69p enabling me to delete lots of contacts at a time, a function you would expect a company like Apple to provide free, especially as this most unexpected of gifts is so easy to come by.

I make a suggestion to you Mr Apple, when the option to sync with outlook is offered, please put a message that has to be approved by the user, the message should read:

“You are about to import the contact details of EVERYONE who has EVER sent you an Email, even if it was 10 years ago, DO YOU WANT TO CONTINUE”.

Then one can click “No” and think TFFT!

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Pet hates about personal statements No.2

Not putting a personal statement, I mean not even a covering letter saying: “I would like to apply for the position of….”  What do you think my reaction will be?

It’s the metaphorical equivalent of walking into a grocery store and walking up to the cashier and just holding open your bag.  Have you ever done that?  What was the response of the cashier?  Did they intuitively know what your taste’s and requirements were?  What were they called?  I’d like to give them a job for that very special skill.

Seriously folks, I know it must be a pain to write a letter, even if it’s just 2 sentences, but if you don’t do this your cv is just a cv, pretty indistinguishable from the myriad cv’s that have been sent before, and yes you’ve guessed it, it goes straight on the “no” pile.

I have 2 folders whenever there’s a vacancy, one is called “cv’s”, the other is called “Good cv’s”, in order to get into the “Good cv’s” folder you only need to write an introduction:  “Hello, my name is ……, I’d like to apply for the position of ……… because….”

It’ll be worth it in the end.

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Idiots guide to Pensions Auto Enrolment

A new employment tax came into force on Monday, but only if you are unfortunate enough to work for a very large employer, by very large employer I mean a company with over 120,000 employees, that’s large.  Employees will be taxed at 1% and the employer will also be taxed at 1% to begin with but will rise to 3% and 2% from 2016 to oct 2017 and then finally 5% and 3% after that.  All employees and workers will be eligible to join over the age of 21 earning more than 8,105 (this figure will rise year on year).  The company I work for has a staging date of 1st February 2014 (we have 290 employees) and nearly all employers will be “in it” by 1st October 2015 with some stragglers joining the party as late as 1st Feb 2018.

All workers have the right to “opt-out” but employers are not allowed to suggest that they do or make it easy to do so in any way.  Opt out has to be in writing only and not prompted.

The default scheme will be NEST (National Employment Savings Trust) which will be shit, they take a charge out of every transaction sent and will undoubtedly lose the money.

Interestingly, it is the first ever tax in the UK (although you’re not supposed to call it tax) that is specifically earmarked for a particular thing, retirement.

Self-employed “workers” are probably entitled to the pension as a recent Tribunal decided in the judges’ infinite wisdom.

It’s all really good fun, I can’t wait.

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Pleb calls Pleb a Pleb

As we all know, Andrew Mitchell lost his rag at a policeman Pleb the other day when the officer wouldn’t allow him to cycle through a gate that was designated for cars, insisting that he use the proper gate that was designated for cycles.  After a long hard day talking about things Mr Mitchell lost it a bit and, according to The Sun said:

Best you learn your fucking place. You don’t run this fucking government.  You’re fucking plebs.”

Now, I can understand losing it a bit when an officer of the law acts like a complete and utter Jobsworth, when you’re tired and possibly a bit stressed after a long day talking about stuff, but the simple fact is this.  Andrew Mitchell has been appointed by us, the people, in a democracy and is therefore a servant of the public and it is quite acceptable to imagine one classifying public servants as a despised social class, and therefore Plebs.

Actually, officially Plebs were often skilled people of ancient Rome and could become quite wealthy and influential.  So not that much of a name-call to get worked up about, depending on your point of view.

Regardless Mr Mitchell and Mr Policeman, you are both fucking plebs.

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Pet Hates about Personal Statements No.1

I rarely like to give advice but whenever we have a job opportunity at work I feel the need.  As I am a fond advocate for the Plain English Campaign;  I find there are certain concepts you can convey to people in very simple terms.  If you can use 5 words to make a statement, don’t try to use 10.  So my number 1 pet hate, the thing that really puts me off a candidate from the start is the word “believe”.

I don’t care what you believe about yourself, I care what you know.  However new to the job market you are, you know if you are hard-working, polite, professional or positive.  Let me give you some real world examples from some real world cv’s / personal statements.

I Believe that I am a very positive person

Well, for a start you have capitalised the “B” in believe, my most irritative of words but I can overlook that.  You are either positive or you are not, by saying that you believe it you are saying:  “You might not think I’m positive, but to hell with what you think!”

I love marketing because I believe I’m somewhat creative myself

I mean come on man, not only are you uncertain as to your creativity, you are uncertain as to whether you are slightly creative.  The statement, in plain English, is: “I love marketing because I’m creative”.

I believe I am a highly diverse individual

I’m not even sure what that means, if it means you are adaptable, say: “I am a very adaptable person”, if indeed adaptable is what you meant.

I believe I am a hard working individual

What? Surely, if you’ve ever done any kind of work ever, you compare yourself to those around you.  If you work harder than most, you are hard-working.  If you only believe you are hard-working you are using some standard of measurement that is independent of a standard social measurement of hard-working.

Now I know this is England and we don’t like to say good things about ourselves, but at the end of the day, you need a job.  Putting the caveat of “I believe” is not going to prevent you from getting the sack if you turn out not to be whatever it is you believe, and if that thing is hard-working then you’d probably get sacked anyway.  If you want to sell yourself, you need to make positive affirmations about your attributes, not wishy washy non-committal waffle.

There are of course, times when the word believe may be an asset, this is at interview stage where you may want to impress the interviewer with your ideas on improving company performance without being too insistent and denting his ego, but you need to get to the interview by saying what you know.

[rant mode off]

Good luck people.

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Writing to your MP, total waste of time…

I wrote to David Gauke MP, he’s my local politico and is supposed to represent his constituents.  I wanted to know if he shared my fears about HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) initiative.  I won’t go into details in this post, I’ve written about it before here and why I am concerned about it here.

David responded to my letter saying he had written to Mr Important at HMRC and will write back to me when he has heard back.  I got the next letter saying; “please find enclosed the response I got from Mr Important”.  The letter explained exactly what RTI was and why they thought it was a good idea.  I had explained to Mr Gauke that I knew a lot about RTI, I even took the time to explain to him the basics of the scheme.  I then asked him if he shared my fears that RTI was simply a disguised move towards the much more ominous Centralised Deductions, a point at which we basically all become employees of HMRC who get hold of our hard earned cash before we do.

He didn’t answer that very clear question.  I expect he thinks it’s a good idea that we all move towards a kind of communist slavery of the kind you see in dystopian films like Children of Men.

What a tit.

Posted in HMRC, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Morning Damson Hunt

So, Saturday morning is Caiden and Dad’s walk time.  We sometimes just walk round the local area and sometimes go out of town and find a patch of woodland or a lake.  Last weekend I noticed Damsons growing over the fence of a nearby school, the tree was scrawny and looked only perhaps 10 years old.  I got to wondering how the tree got there; it was certainly not planted deliberately given the location of other trees in the playground area.

I’m thinking maybe a bird dropped a damson there, or a person discarded a stone as they walked along, it’s possible there’s a much bigger tree somewhere in the local area.  So that’s Saturday morning sorted, we shall find this older, bigger Damson tree and harvest it to make Jam and Wine.

You’ve got to love Damson’s, they’re so much tastier than Plums, and free…

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