Change is part of our everyday lives – so why should we expect the accountancy profession to be any different?
Members will be aware of their responsibility to undertake continuing professional development; this will help you keep pace and cope with legislative changes. Yet, as well as helping you prepare for policy developments, we try to influence them too.
One of AAT’s perhaps lesser-known roles is its lobbying function: we strive to bring clarity to government policy and ensure legislation works in the real world. Most of all, we want to raise AAT’s profile and ensure members’ interests and needs are represented.
Over the past two or three years we have responded, on average, to around 20 consultation documents a year from government departments and other regulators. This year, we are on track to respond to many more.
Who AAT works with in lobbying for the accountancy profession
Who do we engage with the most? HMRC, as you might expect, is the most prolific in seeking our views on legislative developments. But this year we have also contributed to the consultative process for the Department for Work & Pensions, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Treasury, the Office of Tax Simplification and the International Integrated Reporting Council.
Sometimes we will issue e-surveys to canvass your views; on other occasions we’ll run workshops and focus groups to capture input. We have a variety of specialists – nearly all of whom are AAT members – who we draft in to help construct AAT’s responses, and we have an internal panel that reviews all submissions to ensure consistency of views and tone.
We monitor the summary of response documents that are usually issued a few months after the consultation deadline to reflect on whether AAT’s views have been taken into consideration. This also enables us to advise you, as members, on how to prepare for the changes that are coming.
What AAT has achieved
Does this energetic lobbying of government and other partners work? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve had some successes through the lobbying we have undertaken, but the views we express are not always acted upon in the development of legislation and other changes.
Yet succeed or fail, we won’t slow down. This year, Real Time Information (RTI) has been a substantial issue for members. This is a major change and, as such, we engaged in consultations on it in 2011 and 2012, as well as being represented at various HMRC forums to debate the topic further.
We have subsequently issued guidance and support to the membership to help you, your employers and your clients to prepare. One thing is sure: we can only continue to be effective lobbyists with your help. I promise that we will continue to canvass your views and provide you with the scope to let us know what you think.
We ask that you continue to engage with us so we can represent you and your fellow members accordingly. We need to work together to ensure that the profession’s legislative structure works for those who work within it day in, day out.
If you are interested in finding out more about AAT’s lobbying activity, all of its consultation responses are available to view and download online.
Adam Harper is AAT's Director of Strategy and Professional Standards.