Where’s Wally?

January 21, 2013

OK then, Christmas well and truly over, New Year thoroughly bedded in, off with the onesies and on with the back-to-work trousers; what’s happening in the wonderful world of tax consultations?

Well, erm, I’m not really sure.  The Treasury’s tax tracker page is a mess, with a heading “Tax consultation tracker (2012)” above a link that looks as if it’s going to be a link to the tracker but actually leads to a previous version of the same web page: Tax updates and consultations tracker 2011

The last actual tax tracker I can find is the one published on 7 December last year (here’s the link) and it shows, erm, none.  Well, none that are actually open, that is.

The HMRC “current consultations” page is a bit better – if you can find it, that is (go to the HMRC main page, search for “consultations” and then scroll down till you find the link that says “current consultations” – under the heading “Details of consultations launched since May 2010 can be found in the following sections”.

(There are two, but they both close in March so we’ll come back to them later)

The Treasury site, actually, is a bit easier to navigate if you were coming at it from no knowledge except a desire to see what consultations were out there.  Go to their front page and there’s a link in the sidebar on the left to “consultations and legislation

So nothing much doing, you might think?

Well, erm… you’d be wrong.  Because the according to this Written Ministerial Statement  the entire 2013 Finance Bill is up for technical consultation until February 6th.  Not “is this a good idea” consultation, you understand, just a “does this work the way we think it does, and by the way can you spot any typos we’ve missed” consultation.  Not that anyone who doesn’t take a policy-wonk interest in the Finance Bill consultation is likely to have the proverbial snowflake’s chance of finding it, however!

Speaking of which… did anyone happen to notice the House of Lords’ Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee issued their report and recommendations after their oral evidence session with Oliver Letwin?  And, oh look at paragraph 11 where they urge the government

to introduce, as soon as possible, a single website listing open consultations in the order in which they close (paragraph 54).

And, oh go on, look at paragraph 54.  Which says

54. Wendy Bradley noted that there is no central source of information on what consultations are scheduled, open or coming to an end: “in the 21st century it should be possible for the government to have a single website listing its open consultations in the order in which they close. This would, for example, enable someone going on holiday for a fortnight to be assured that an issue vital to them wasn’t going to be decided in their absence.” We consider that this would be a significant contribution to improving the overall efficiency of the consultation process, and we urge the Government to introduce such a website as soon as possible. It would also provide a useful to tool to Departments to enable them better to co-ordinate consultations on similar subjects.

[Pause for a quiet rendition of the “told you so” dance]


  1. Be careful what you wish for… there appears to be a ‘consultations page’ on Gov.UK, which replaces inter alia the old BiS consultations page, but it lists everything, open or not. Once HMT and HMRC drop their consultations into that particular black hole of uselessness we’ll never be able to find any of them. (No, the filtering tools aren’t any use on the Gov.UK page) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?publication_filter_option=consultations

  2. Quite! But this was why I suggested to the House of Lords committee that they needed to separate out the open ones and list them in the order in which they close! You wouldn’t have thought it was rocket science, would you?

  3. […] for another round of the “told you so” […]

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