Accessing HMRC services: the role of the community sector
Online Centres help people to interact more confidently with HMRC benefits and tax services. They use their holistic support model to identify and respond to a range of user needs. This report characterises these needs and the impact of Centres’ responses to them.
Online Centres help people to interact more confidently with HMRC benefits and tax services.
They use their holistic support model to identify and respond to a range of user needs. This report characterises these needs and the impact of Centres’ responses to them. It presents usable typologies of the advice and guidance which the community sector excels at.
In their benefits advice work, Online Centres:
- Raise awareness of HMRC benefits among people in financial difficulty
- Support the apprehensive to make their first claim
- Help existing claimants to better understand their reporting obligations
- Act as intermediaries in situations where claimants struggle to report independently to HMRC
- Advocate for people when they struggle to challenge a decision that they feel has been made incorrectly
In their tax advice work, Online Centres:
- Encourage people who have the vocational skills but not the confidence to enter self-employment, by explaining the obligations of self-assessment
- Teach newly self-employed individuals how to keep orderly business records
- Advise unprepared traders on how to deal with approaching tax return deadlines
- Negotiate manageable repayment schedules for people with large tax bills or penalties
Online Centres are experts in mobilising these functions when they recognise specific needs in people. Their support assists people to enter and maintain employment.
This realist report examines the mechanisms behind this work and demonstrates the centrality of community organisations in facilitating access to HMRC services.
Wai Yin Society in Manchester has been delivering the HMRC Advice and Guidance programme, run by Good Things Foundation and HMRC, to help their learners use HMRC’s online services.
Jenny Tsang, manager of Wai Yin’s Advice Team, has led a team of dedicated staff and volunteers to deliver financial management classes and provide one-to-one sessions to learners who require support and information about HMRC services. Jenny also encouraged all staff and volunteers to share their knowledge with colleagues across the organisation.
“We have a good track record of delivering general advice, IT and ESOL classes for more than ten years. Through this programme, we have been able to reach out to even more people – people who we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach. We have built our good reputation over many years of serving communities. Most people found out about this programme through word of mouth so advertising wasn’t such a great deal in this.”
“There is so much demand for this service and we are happy to carry on delivering it. It’s enjoyable being able to help people who otherwise would have to struggle on their own. It makes my job even more worthwhile.”