Welcome to our Spring Newsletter.
We are all painfully aware of the current cost of living crisis and the effect it is having on everyone’s lives, well-off or not. But, as so often happens, the impact is in inverse proportion to the size of income and, as ever, the worst hit are those who are on low incomes.
The media are full of useful suggestions as to how to eke out meagre resources but, again, the poor suffer a double whammy. As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation observed in its paper “The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK”,
“Almost a fifth of poor households and over a quarter of households in receipt of Universal Credit experienced food insecurity in 2020/21. Since then, the impact of the cost of living crisis on normal daily life has been laid bare in JRF’s latest cost of living tracker, conducted in late October and early November 2022:
This is the background to the growth in foodbank use, with the latest full year Trussell Trust data covering 2021/22 showing a much higher level of use than before the pandemic.”
This report was published in 2023. Read the full findings here: UK Poverty 2023: JRF
As we all know, being poor will not necessarily exempt you from tax problems, and the freezing of the personal allowance will bring more people on low incomes into the tax net over the coming years. And, as if coping with poverty were not enough, many of our clients, and potential clients, have to deal with other problems, such as poor mental or physical health.
All this means that the demand for the help Tax Aid and Tax Help for Older People is ever-increasing. Without your generosity, we would not be able to help those vulnerable people whom we are able to reach. Like all charities, our costs are also increasing, and we are painfully aware that there is fearsome competition for your generosity. This makes you, our supporters, even more valuable to us.
In this Newsletter, you will be able to read about what we have been doing to raise funds, future events, and some of the current projects we are running within the charities. So, on behalf of both charities, I want to thank you once again for all you have given us, and to urge you to carry on giving. Only with your support can we hope to reach all those who desperately need our help.
Chair, Tax Help for Older People
Taking part in fundraising events and challenges can be a fun way to raise funds for TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People. It’s also a great opportunity to spread the word about the charities’ work amongst colleagues, friends and family. Word-of-mouth may even reach someone who knows someone who needs our help. If you would like to fundraise, there is help inside our Fundraising Pack.
If you are considering a challenge event, then Tina Riches and Brian Chapman would like to hear from you. They would be happy to coordinate another challenge, having succeeded in organising and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and would like to know what kind of event would work best for you. Their request is:
Following the successful Kilimanjaro trip (which raised just over £27,000), we would like to organise further sponsored events, potentially one a year, and would be grateful if you could give us a steer on the type of sponsored events you might be interested in doing. We are looking into using Charity Challenge, who run a wide range of events, details of which are on their website at:
We have selected 4 different events of different lengths and levels of challenge and would like you all to indicate whether any of these are of interest to you – and if not if you have alternative suggestions. Please follow this link to our survey:
Thank you, Tina Riches and Brian Chapman
Remember, that if you raise funds for our Bridge the Gap campaign, any money you raise will be shared equally between the two charities. Good luck and thank you.
Post-pandemic 2023 is the first “normal” year for both TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People since 2020. Looking forward we must focus on the importance of the services our beneficiaries really need from us and how to deliver them. To that end, it is very clear that 2023 will be no ordinary year for TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People.
Many will be acutely aware of the pressures facing people in the UK in 2023. Escalating costs of living, impacts of rising inflation, food, and energy costs affecting people’s daily lives. Many people will have to make tough decisions in terms of lifestyle choices – heat or eat – and for many of the most vulnerable, the impacts on their mental health and well-being will be quite serious.
A number of people are supplementing existing P.A.Y.E. employment, pensions and other benefits with casual self-employed jobs which again bring implications with tax and self-assessment, frequently an unintended consequence, and often an aspect that many have not thought about. They are likely to need our help and guidance more and more.
These challenges have become the core of our focus, as we at TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People have worked hard to address some of the newer identified ‘needs’ of our beneficiaries and make both the charities and the services offered by them sustainable for the future. Our projects are aimed at the heart of our ethos – working for the good of our beneficiaries.
In this first article, we look briefly at 3 of those projects, which really go to the heart of delivering newer improved services:
The Triage Project
The Triage Project focuses on ensuring staff are trained to follow the due diligence and structure required to ensure they can provide a triage call answering service and assist with managing the capacity of the charities.
This triage stage is crucial to ensuring the case issues are clearly identified and the best way to assist the caller is assessed i.e. do they need signposting, is it a complex issue that will require being assigned to a caseworker or more 1-1 interaction with a member of staff or a volunteer, does it require escalation to HMRC directly for help.
This process ensures we optimise the use of our valuable and specialist, yet limited, staff resources to deliver the right outcomes for beneficiaries.
New Service Lines Project
New Service Lines project uses the helpline data and referring partners’ feedback on tax issues to identify where support is needed, but not yet currently provided. The Project lead is working to design and deliver these new service lines, and to enhance the delivery of many of our current services to help small businesses and sole traders who often have issues and on a limited income have nowhere to get that help. We will be looking to recruit more volunteers who may have expertise in tax affairs of this nature.
Referral Routes Project
Referral Routes is a great initiative with a strategy to increase referrals through cultivating new relationships with other Voluntary Services Organisation (VSO) partners i.e. CAB, AGEUK, Pension services, faith groups, and working more closely with debt advice services. This will also help us grow our network and ensure that longer term we receive more referrals as awareness of the two charities is raised within the VSOs and other local and regional help groups and community hubs.
These are just three of our projects, in addition to the day-to-day running of the charity, that we are working on to ensure a broadening of our services. We are also working on projects around Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment (MTD for ITSA) and how this will impact our most digitally illiterate beneficiaries, and we hope to update you on this project in due course.
Working on these projects allows us to look closely at what we are offering our beneficiaries and how we can better use our resources to help those who are most in need.
London Legal Walk
The London Legal Walk is on Tuesday 13th June. This is a major fundraiser for the charities and a chance to meet other people who support us from across the profession. In 2022, our supporters raised £7,834 – it would be great to beat this figure in 2023. Please contact Rose Over at firstname.lastname@example.org to register to walk for TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People (through our joint Bridge the Gap campaign).
The CIOT and ATT are once again supporting TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People by hosting a series of CPD events in 2023. We are planning events in May, September and November and will update on dates and speakers when confirmed. We hope that you will be able to join or view the recording.
Why did you become a volunteer?
Whilst I was working in professional practice, I was obviously aware of the complexities of personal taxation and the demands of self-assessment. It always struck me how difficult it must be for individuals who could not afford to take professional advice to resolve their tax and deal with HMRC. I was aware of TaxAid and always felt it was such a worthwhile way to assist these individuals but whilst working I was never able to devote the time to volunteer.
I ceased full-time work in 2008 and therefore had time to volunteer and ‘put something back’ and therefore offered to volunteer for both TaxAid and Tax Help.
What do you enjoy about working as a volunteer?
As I have now retired from full-time work, I enjoy the opportunity volunteering gives me to continue to actively use the skills and experience I have accumulated as well as providing me with an enjoyable and rewarding activity.
From a personal point of view, my volunteering sessions are beneficial in keeping my mind active and I feel as though as I am continuing to use my technical experience in a helpful way. I find the way in which we are to help people very rewarding and humbling. The biggest thing for me is being able to help individuals in every volunteering session alleviate their concerns about tax and take at least this worry away.
Can you share a memorable case you’ve had while working with us?
I took a call from a lady who was clearly frustrated and stressed from continual demands from HMRC for several thousand pounds of tax and penalties which, on investigation, were clearly not due. She had tried to resolve herself and as the call progressed it seemed she also had personal issues from an abusive relationship and did not know where to turn. Having assessed the situation it was clear that HMRC would be able to withdraw the penalties and I contacted HMRC and was able to arrange this. I felt very good about being able to assist with this one.
Thank you to staff at Deloitte who raised £7,500 by responding to an in-house survey. It’s also a great fundraising idea!
We are indebted to the speakers and hosts of our CPD events in 2022. These events raised almost £19,000 between them. Our thanks also go to the staff at CIOT and ATT who helped arrange these events.