Well obviously -->
Upvotes all round for Gypsythief
180 posts • joined 19 Aug 2010
Upvotes all round for Gypsythief
I agree with your analysis of the numbers*, and risk/return ratios, and as a general principle it's an aproach more people should take. But I think here the key point is in your final sentence - "costing more than just writing off the loss if they fail". If CDS fails, there'll be goods rotting on the docksides, patients dying in hospitals and factories standing idle. If MTD goes up the spout you'll have a major cashflow problem for government in the short term, followed by significant impacts on "taxpayer morale" for years to come - not to mention the direct impacts on business trying to cope with it. So on this occasion, I think it is a matter of concern that these key "enabling technologies" might fall over.
*There may well be key distinction between "government's major IT programmes" and "143 government programmes" - I've seen people caught out by the NAO press team's approach to drafting press releases before now, but don't have the time to read the full report on this occasion to check. However, reference to "39 IT projects worth £18.6bn" suggests IT projects average £0.5bn approx; the remaining 104 "programmes" are worth £436bn between them - so a risk of comparing apples to oranges if we're not careful.
Is there any particular reason why this has been filed under "Personal Tech"? I'd have thought perhaps "Security" would be more appropriate, but maybe the staff at ElReg have one of these each for personal use..?
As I understand it, the department now considers itself responsible for "Digital, culture media & sport" (see departmental page at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-culture-media-sport - although elsewhere on gov.uk they have used more commas). Either they're now in charge of agar jelly, or they should brush up on the punctuation of lists.
(Those who still aren't convinced of the importance of punctuation should read up on the US Oakland Dairies case, in which millions of dollars of overtime payments turn upon the use (or rather, lack of use) of an Oxford comma.)
As a young lad* I was taken around Daddy's offices. Daddy wrote operating systems for IBM mainframes, and the computers** were kept in a custom built glass cube on the side of the Georgian mansion they'd bought as offices. In addition to the aircon, Halon systems etc I clearly remember being told about how we had to go through an airlock because they also maintained an artificial air pressure differential between the computer room and the outside world. So no, not really just "a room with computers".
*Some decades. Shoulder pads were in, as was (just) Margaret Thatcher. Still hadn't heard of the Falklands though.
*I was 8. I don't remember model numbers etc. They were big boxes with glass lids.
"the CAP system in England and Wales... was intended to be a Government Digital Service exemplar, but instead went over budget 40 per cent to £215m, and will incur penalties from the EU of £180m per year as a result of disallowance payments."
"instead"? I'd have thought overbudget and underperforming was a perfect exemplar of a GDS project.
My inner cynic is simply overwhelmed and can't decide which Friday afternoon joke to go for first...
But thank you for the link; I will make the time to watch, as it's genuinely important stuff (and I do know personally a couple of politicians who also fit the brief of open, articulate and knowledgeable. I just wish they all were)
@Rattus Rattus puts me in mind of the Doctor in the House advice to young medics examining a patient:
Eyes first and most
Hands next and least
Tongue not at all.
(Delivered by James Robertson Justice)
AIUI, yes - but operated by end-user, rather than intermediary, or entity-adjacent-to-intermediary. So has never caused the same issues as in the UK.
Apropos of which, DNTP, I've always understood one of the big hurdles for AI development was finding a truly random input generator. In which case, why are they faffing about with software stuff? History (and youtube evidence) suggests that the linkage between steering wheel & road wheels of a forklift would generate sufficient totally random outputs for a given input to meet the requirements.
In context, probably the rarer (non-migratory) marsupial variant.
Now it's set me thinking; which would be more dangerous: 1 forklift sized keyboard, or 100 keyboard sized forklifts?
Before I get too many downvotes, I do have tongue more or less in cheek on the title - but what follows is 100% serious.
Until we have self loading dishwashers, how can they need internet access? We don't run them til they're loaded. Humans load them. Once they're full, we set them off. If we don't want them to clean the dishes straight away, they have a "delay" feature so we can run them when the Economy7 has kicked in/while the sun's up and our solar panels are providing the juice.
Us humans put the salt, tablets & rinse-aid in. Needing internet access to order more rinse-aid etc when it's running low is (until the manufacturers can be trusted with anything sharper than a crayon or warmer than a cushion) a decidedly sub-optimal path.
So why on earth do we need internet enabled dishwashers? "Because we can" is a valid human argument for scaling Everest (for those humans so inclined/capable) but letting household appliances loose on the internet "because we can" (rather than "because we need to") is lazy, foolish & pointless.
My father told me the tale of a junior physics master who caused a degree of comment by shooting a 6th former in the leg.
It was all part of an experiment to use light beams as triggers for a timing device to establish the speed of an air-rifle pellet. The air-rifle was clamped in place, and lined up to shoot across the two light beams (one start, one stop) and then flatten itself harmlessly against a protective barrier. Normally the experiment was carried out by the head of physics, but he was away, so the "new boy" covering the lesson took his place.
He duly assembled all the equipment, including barrier, and started the lesson. At the appointed moment he pulled the string which actuated the air-rifle trigger, and the pellet exited the barrel, passed through the first beam (starting the timer), passed through the second beam (stopping the timer), passed through the sheet of stiff card (which the junior master had used instead of the "lab-stool on its side with 4" of newspaper wadded onto the seat" favoured by the head of physics), passed through the glass of the lab window, and finally came to rest in the leg of a passing student.
It says a lot for the values of the time that the reason Dad thought this worthy of comment was that by the time I attended the same school, said junior master was himself Head of Physics, rather than ruing the day he got drummed out of the teaching profession for shooting pupils.
(Other experiments which I was told about mostly so I *wouldn't* repeat them were:
Which wins - the convector heater or the fridge? and
Who operates at a higher pressure - the Gas board or the Water board? (Apparently the answer was the Water board, as established by one inquisitive pupil connecting the gas tap to the water tap with a length of rubber tube and opening both to Full. It cost quite a lot of money to have the gas system drained down, as well as a rather pointed letter to the Headmaster).)
Did you email them by any chance?
Is that a specific comment about the toilets database?
No, it's not April yet, so I need to reread it slowly and see if I can understand any of the words, instead of trying to make silly ones out of the acronyms.
(Although the bit a bout QCs and low energy states may cause a wry smile in any lawyers who've tried contacting a silk on a Friday afternoon)
There's an interesting conundrum around that. A few years back, there was a school of thought that you could have an "IR35 proof contract" - just stick in the right clauses round control, substitution etc and off you go. HMRC and the Tribunals disagreed, and the case law is very firm and clear that you have to look at what happens on the ground, not just what was signed 18 months ago. (There's one case where the paperwork stayed the same for several years, but part way through the actual day-to-day practices changed, and so did the IR35 status).
Now square that with the idea that HMRC's new tool will be able to accurately predict *before the contract starts* what your status will be. Hint: you can't. And since payments have to be processed on the RTI system, it's not something you can revisit after starting; you have to get it right up front. It's just another reason why implementation is likely to be 'extremely challenging'.
You're probably all right about the numbers - there will be extra due diligence required at every layer as well, just to confirm who should be operating RTI on which payments, which will help to justify the "margins".
More worryingly, I've heard that since the new rules apply to ALL contracts, not just IT, and IR35 can catch any service supply that could have been offered by an employee (ie gardening, cleaning, legal work etc) public sector bodies are thinking about cancelling all their contracts with small business, and routing everything via Capita etc, just to avoid the analysis burden and related risk exposure if they get it wrong. Sure, it'll cost more than paying people direct, but it'll cost less than the risk of getting it wrong and having HMRC on their back for years.
It gets better - if there's a long chain of agencies, then the Gov't department is going to be paying everyone's margin on the increased cost of funding the contractor's additional tax. So, contractor's day-rate goes up by eg £20 to fund the £20 which the Treasury will get back. 1st agency goes up by £21, 2nd by £22, 3rd by £23 etc. Treasury has to fund the Dep't with an extra £23, paid for out of the £20 extra income + top up from wherever else in the public purse they can find it. (While some of that extra cash stays in the UK economy and hits the Exchequer sooner or later, as pointed out in the article a lot of the bigger players shift their profits offshore out of the UK tax net, so we lose that wedge completely.)
Am I missing something here, or is it deliberate that you suggest taking copies of the "discard" pile?
(I think there's also possibly a typo around losing/loosing which could trigger jokes about leaks of critical information, but I can't face working one out right now)
The Niagara Straw:
Apologies to those who've seen me post this link before - Lloyd's of London have done some modelling on the likely impact of a Carrington Event - you can find the pdf to download here: https://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/emerging%20risk%20reports/solar%20storm%20risk%20to%20the%20north%20american%20electric%20grid.pdf
Up voted for use of the term "nut job" to describe squirrels
ISTR hearing* of an individual who registered with several different agencies on learning his role was potentially up for grabs. Meanwhile, perused Sits Vac for an alternative option.
Ultimately, found himself applying for what appeared (from advert) to be his dream role. His disappointment on discovering that it was actually the job he already held, but viewed through the rose tinted lenses of a recruitment droid, was tempered only by the discovery that meanwhile his boss had selected his own (anonymised and "edited" by the recruitment agency) CV for interview at 1.5 times his current salary to replace himself in his own job.
So now I need to damp the speaker cones down with blutac as well as having masking tape across the camera?
HMRC's MTD would shift everyone onto digital, and save HMRC some of our money - they reckon £945m a year of tax would be properly classified, and an unknown amount saved in their own systems (although they've been offered £1.3bn to make it work in the first place which'll need to be recouped; any guesses on how far that £1.3bn will go over budget and eat further into the "profits"?)
But the FSB reckon it'll cost their members and average of £2,770pa to implement - across the 5m or so small/medium businesses in the UK, that's a cost of about £13-14bn pa, and it'll cost big business even more to change their systems to meet HMRC's specifications as well as their own commercial requirements.
And that's before we start on infrastructure readiness, digital assist/digital exclusion stats and the costs from errors. To err is human, but to truly foul things up takes a computer - a good accountant can normally fix a shoebox full of receipts and an exercise book full of double(ish) entry and sums. But stick all that lot into a computer and it can be utterly unresolvable; Excel is bad enough, but on proprietary integrated accounts packages it's simply impossible.
Society's meant to be about a joint effort between citizen & state; changing stuff just for one party's benefit is the wrong way to go about it.
For navigating on maps, I use a device called a romer - you can buy them ready made, but using a graphics programme & suitably accurate printer I've made my own, printed on acetate sheets, with various tweaks - the most important of which is a single vertical arrow with a patch of red colour to the left, green to the right. Placed on the map with the arrow facing in the direction of travel, the colour of the patch tells you whether to shout "left" or "right" (yes, turning the romer over is theoretically possible, but there's a fair bit of text on it so you'd normally notice). It works whether you are moving up, down or across the map; being comfy with red/green it works for me, but you could do your own with the words "left" and "right".
(Prompt for that particular addition to the romer was "once bitten, twice shy". I don't normally struggle with L/R issues, but as you emerge from the forests onto a main road at 3am in the middle of Wales it can happen. And did; took us 40 minutes to realise as I just assumed the mismatch between what was expected from the map & what was on roadsigns was down to them being in Welsh. I know that doesn't make any sense *now* but after 17hours non-stop rally driving it did; we actually made up a fair bit of the time after realising & doing the U-turn and were only 45 minutes late into the 2 hour breakfast [nap] halt, but losing 45 minutes of precious rest time was a hard learned lesson...)
The other thing I've learnt from years of navigating is the word "right" is reserved for directional instructions; agreement or confirmation is always indicated with the words "that's correct". Otherwise you get the inevitable "Do I go left at this crossroads?" "Yes, that's right" confusion. Amusing to watch when it afflicts the car in front of you; less fun to be involved in.
I read "bars" as a verb in the headline so this wasn't quite the story I was expecting
Lloyds of London looked at some of the possible impacts of a serious outage in the US a couple of years back - predicated on a Carrington event rather than "local" storms, but some of the findings are potentially worrying. You can get hold of the whole paper via https://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/emerging%20risk%20reports/solar%20storm%20risk%20to%20the%20north%20american%20electric%20grid.pdf
Can't believe there've been >50 comments before anyone offers the obligatory beer for finding some Be Bop Deluxe to brighten the day
But @Buzzword, where do you think Parliament gets its ideas from?
(Hint: Margaret Hodge let rip in one of her PAC hearings on what a stupid idea REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are, and how no-one in their right mind would have put them into law. Cue "helpful" researchers checking Hansard and confirming that REITs were a single item amendment to the Finance Bill, for which Hodge M had duly voted in favour. In fairness, she was a Cabinet Minister at the time, and voting against a government amendment to Finance Bills is unheard of, *even if she'd had a clue what she was voting on*.
MPs aren't tax experts, and have to rely on Civil Servants for a lot of the ideas and all of the implementation)
"The source of may problems has been the absence of a detailed view of how Universal Credit is meant to work" National Audit Office, Universal Credit: Early progress,HC 621, 2013, p. 33
So now that lesson has been learned there won't be any similar problems with HMRC's MTD initiative then. Which is bigger, more complicated, covers more systems and has an even more compressed timeframe.
(For those of you not aware, there's a summary of some of the impacts of MTD at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-tax-digital-for-business-an-overview-for-small-businesses-the-self-employed-and-smaller-landlords - basically, HMRC want you to keep your business records in their prescribed format on software you'll have to buy from their approved suppliers, and send them details 5 times a year; basic info if you just want to keep them off your back [but you won't get any benefit from it] or detailed info if you want them to estimate your final tax liability so you can budget for it)
If you're worried about having to use engager's kit, Hall v Lorimer (1993 Ct App IIRC) is your friend - as the vision mixer on Have I Got News For You, he was able to successfully rebut* HMRC's argument that using the BBC's 8' wide mixing desk was an indicator that he was an employee. Apparently, in The World According To HMRC(TM) any self respecting self-employed vision mixer owned their own £250k mixing desk and hawked it around the country, from show to show. Thankfully, the Court of Appeal had a slightly closer grasp on reality than HMIT Hall, and we now have a persuasive precedent that actually accords with the world as experienced by normal people. [for anyone who wants to know just _how_ close a grip the senior judiciary keep on reality, the excellent Steve bell cartoon at http://www.belltoons.co.uk/bellworks/index.php/if/1985/1082-0-0-85JUDGESPAYCLAIM should help. nb it's 30 years old now, so the inflation rates are a bit crock)
*I think I've got the right word there, but if it should be refute I apologise. It's late... *checks watch* ... early and I've had a long day. And a glass or two of wine. Sorry; it's the weekend.
There are three bits of case law which say the same thing. They're quoted here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/396179/gaar-part-abc.pdf in the guidance on the implementation of the General Anti-Abuse Rule which Graeme Aaronson QC developed for the government, specifically to displace that case law precedent. He's gone so far as to openly declare that in public lectures. Subsequent statute trumps case law I'm afraid, even House of Lords.
If you attempt to rely on "the Westminster principle" in front of a UK tax tribunal these days they'll ignore it. (There are some jurisdictions which still operate on that basis, but it's a diminishing proportion. Civil Law codes have never really gone for it at all, generally incorporating some abus de droit principle. Which is why UK VAT avoidance disputes, relying on the European civil code background of VAT, always played to a different set of rules to direct tax avoidance)
It's not just IT - see my post below - but the second leg of the test (is there an intermediary, ie company/partnership which you, broadly, control) is where eg accountants tend to get out of the scope. Either that, or the individuals doing the work under consultancy contracts are employees, so there's no tax to find. There are documented cases where IR35 was potentially in point for non-IT contractors; see eg http://www.taxjournal.com/tj/articles/student-loans-chief-advised-account-tax-under-ir35-40091
By shifting the burden of IR35 compliance up the chain, they'll create an environment where the non-application of the anti-avoidance rule has to be documented up front by either the agency or the public sector body. And that'll have to be done for every contract where there might be disguised employment in HMRC's eyes - not just the hiring of specific individuals for specific roles, but also the more generic stuff like typing, gardening, plumbing etc. where it could be done by an employee (but isn't).
And contrary to popular belief (and HMRC's proposals) it doesn't have to be via a company; the law allows for an IR35 charge to hit partnerships or even individuals who subcontract their work. ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/1/part/2/chapter/8 specifically s51, 52, 53. nb changes to s49 re office holders via "view outstanding changes"). And this rule will apply to every GP surgery, every parish council, every police force and every other public body in the country. That's 9,637 parish councils who need to document the IR35 position for their website manager, maintenance contracts, typists and (joy of joys) auditor. (Auditor's a funny one; they're "officers" so de facto caught by IR35 *unless* they can demonstrate there's no "intermediary" within the statutory definition).
The argument about social contribution vs tax paid vs benefits supplied by the state is a valid one, but this is a particularly wasteful way to go about policing it, without in any way addressing the underlying issues.
Or at least, set up your legislation and leave it alone for a bit while the IT estate catches up. Unless of course you're looking at a situation where you may have <2 years from a given future date to completely rewrite the basis of one of your most important taxes (£119bn pa at last count) and there's a policy incentive to do away with the existing return regime in favour of real time reporting.
Doctor Syntax is right that there are deliberate attacks against physical property, just like virtual assets - but I think the risk with cyber insurance is that (for the time being) we can't tell if someone's about to invent the equivalent of skeleton keys for every physical lock in the country, or a pocket sized laser type device powerful enough to cause ignition of any combustible building material up to and including steel RSJs at a range of up to 3km but which retails for £5.99. Until the underwriters are happy that it's not a risk they need to worry about, setting premiums will remain rather more risky than they're comfortable with.
I now have a lovely mental image of him trying to cycle up hill with 4 bodyguards hanging off the corner mounted footplates of his bicycle (a la Presidential Lincoln)
AC above is not quite right - there are occasions when you *must* file on paper; you can find the list here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/516189/2016-exc-indi.pdf
If you can get yourself into one of these, then you can, nay must, file on paper. Admittedly, they're not all necessarily practicable, or indeed necessarily attractive options - MPs are among the groups who file on paper (although interestingly it's nothing to do with shortcomings in HMRC's calculation software, but due to "security reasons". Not sure why they're mandating online for the rest of us when it's too dangerous for them to even attempt it).
My thought was more "how?" As I understand it, a significant proportion of claimants are still being processed manually because the IT can't do the job yet at all. Not sure quite how it could get worse...
I just get the luminous solar system set up on my daughter's bedroom ceiling ("Pack contains 8 planets and a Pluto" before you ask), all orbits proportionately scaled (sort of; the planets themselves are too similar in size - and an orbit accurately scaled to the size of the Earth model would have required a 5 mile wide bedroom) and now this.
I suppose we'll just have to blutack a bouncy ball to the bathroom ceiling or something.
You only need one type of tax if you are prepared to be awkward enough about it
And although the consumer may not notice VAT, businesses do. There is probably not a pet shop in the land which correctly accounts for the VAT on every item they sell, since feed etc for working animals is zero rated while for pets, goods are standard rated.
As for yanks dribbling at the simplicity of PAYE *for the employee* - well, yes. If it's done properly. (Google NPS and Dave Hartnett, or ESC A19 for examples of when they didn't). But it is still a right royal PITA for businesses. (Google RTI Accountingweb )
And we have tax elections driven by the phase of the moon, not to mention the joy of devolution. And we're the only country in the world to run their tax year non-coterminous with a calendar month. The idea of accounting for VAT (monthly/quarterly annual), CIS (ditto), PAYE (Ditto plus every time you run payroll... which is daily for pension providers) CT (annual) NICs (weekly) and SMP/SSP offset (take your pick) in one place.... Yep, this is all arse about face.
1) The "research" they rely on is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-the-impact-of-reporting-cycles The subjects interviewed were too few, and the wrong balance - but more fundamental was the aim of the research; they were asking "what should HMRC say if it wants to sell this stuff to the SME population?", not "will this stuff work for SME/micro population?"
2) Cash is naughty - see the Autumn Statement consultation https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cash-tax-evasion-and-the-hidden-economy-call-for-evidence Which is why they're trying to outlaw it, and why build systems for a dying concept?
3) Tax, like the world, has always run on an annual cycle. Either they need to change us to a non-annual basis [a suggestion which would have Sir Humphrey reaching for a large pitcher of sherry and opening the thesaurus at "foolhardy"] or acknowledge that the first 3 (or 4) returns will always be estimates and there'll be an additional reckoning up at the year end. Which is not actually a simplification or reduction.
Bottom line? All they want to do is accelerate tax so it's paid closer to transactions; it's about cashflow acceleration, and they're going to do it to us under any guise they can. But the sentence that chills me to the heart is the one from the 4th pillar, "Tax in one place" from the Digital Roadmap, "To deliver these changes, HMRC needs to reconfigure its internal systems significantly" I hope that I don't need here to list out the reasons why that's terrifying...
They've misinterpreted "digital", and have come up with a proposal which embodies sticking two fingers up at the taxpaying population.
I know it's not quite what they mean, but I do like the way half the SU pumps are described as "pointless" in the Holden catalogue...
Velv is spot on. Irrecoverable VAT is the biggest tax that FS businesses suffer - way more than CT, NI etc. And it's thanks to the UK's contractor population that we have such an enormous FS sector - London is not just the biggest capital market in Europe, it's actually bigger than the whole of the rest of Europe put together.
Interestingly, there's an article on the FT discussing much the same point about tech prediction (behind the paywall at http://on.ft.com/1MQx9U4 ) - other commentards here may remember one of the sources they discuss, "Future Stuff" by Malcolm Abrams, in which a non-technical author successfully predicted a range of outcomes (if not the underlying research) which "experts" regularly missed in favour of eg telling us the Segway would change the world.
Yes, but I think that was originally aimed at the body panels... John Wyer, team manager at Aston Martin in the 50s and 60s, subsequently confirmed that management regarded the body work as "consumables" - although they'd never actually shared that particular element of management strategy with the drivers. And indeed they're still disposable today... http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Huge-drama-dominates-Castle-Combe-Circuit-s/story-27940805-detail/story.html
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