Unit 203 Maling Exchange Hoults Yard Walker Road Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne NE6 2HL

Going digital for the benefit of the people?

Carl Shovlin

So it was that time of year again. The time when you get a letter from HMRC and you can see it looks pretty formal inside the envelope. So I gingerly opened it up and to my delight it was a refund of overpaid taxes. I’m not sure how that’s happened and it’s not a big amount, but it’s in my favour and I’m going to claim it.

Now, it’s been quite some time since I dealt with HMRC. The last time I had something like this, it was for an underpayment and they just adjusted my tax code. No bother. But here I was given the choice – I can receive a cheque in the post in a few weeks’ time or I can use the new digital route and get it in three days. Not wanting to keep my beer money out of reach for too long, I went the digital route…

As I said, it’s been some time. So I’m faced with signing up to HMRC’s service – Government Gateway beckons. Happily, it’s been thoroughly renovated since those days of dial-up internet and the multi-coloured self-assessment pages. Off I went to get my passport, popped a few details in and bingo! A fully-fledged account was set up in minutes. And it knew why I was there. A couple of button presses later to enter some payment details and I was done. Easy.

This feeds into a conversation we had at work the other day. Why force people to use digital services that don’t work for them? As a current example, there’s talk about the NHS using AI instead of face-to-face GP appointments for routine screening checks. But this doesn’t work for certain areas of society. So, instead of forcing people, be inclusive and offer some choices like I had above. When the digital solution is better/faster/more convenient, then the public will follow. After all, who goes to the bank to stand in a queue to withdraw money at lunchtime these days?


Our Latest Tweets

Barclays Bede Gaming Betfair Catapult Department for Health Goal UK Government HMRC Insure the box NHS Royal Bank of Scotland Sage WEBS