4 min read
Tax advice to get through COVID-19
Helping communities with Tax Help for Older People and Tax Aid
- For those relying on help to get them through the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, charities continue to offer a lifeline.
- Our ongoing relationship with Tax Help for Older People and Tax Aid provided a way to boost the charities’ efforts to help those most in need.
- Sharing expertise and resources increased their capacity to help at grass-roots level - and one targeted campaign helped their social engagement skyrocket.
With so many in need of tax advice after the pandemic hit, it was all hands on deck to get help where it was needed.
Matt Ellis, managing partner for Tax & Legal at Deloitte, said: “The work we do with Tax Aid and Tax Help for Older People offers us as advisers an invaluable insight into the public’s understanding of the UK tax system.”
“During COVID-19 it was important to ensure the charities were able to operate to the best of their ability, and we were keen to understand how we could help.”
“Our links with the charities enabled us to develop an understanding of where there was urgent need in communities; this also led us to create our SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) calculator, for anyone who needed to know more about how the government could help the self-employed at such a challenging time.”
Support for the self-employed
In March, the government launched the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to help self-employed people across the UK during the pandemic.
This led to a need to provide information to vulnerable self-employed people on how they could submit claims, and is an example of how collaboration made a real difference.
“We knew from the calls we received that this group needed particular help to access Government support” said TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People CEO Valerie Boggs.
“To reach them quickly, we needed to create an effective social-media campaign.”
Bringing in the expertise of in-house creative agency Stitch, we worked together with the charities to create a brand new campaign supporting self-employed people to claim financial support via the SEISS.
Between March and June, the charities’ Twitter engagement rose by 3,000 per cent and Facebook engagement by 1,700 per cent.
“The expertise the team brought to our Coronavirus Campaign helped us raise our social media game to another level” Valerie continued.
“Their jargon-free creativity gave us the confidence to take the plunge with an overt and proactive social media campaign, which we can now build on in the future.”
Our self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) calculator tool was made available on our website, to many organisations with a large self-employed staff base and across social media channels.
In its first week, the calculator was used 2,000 times – and was used 13,000 times by the end of June 2020.
Adapting to change
As well as specific campaign advice, the pandemic offered an opportunity for a different kind of support.
“It goes well beyond the invaluable financial, volunteering and pro-bono help we receive. Deloitte’s people are really part of our team, offering insight, support and inspiration on everything from events to service delivery” said Valerie.
This team spirit came to the fore when the charities needed help to investigate the feasibility of a home-based contact centre solution so helplines could stay open, as well as the provision of additional tech such as headsets and laptops to deal with extra call volumes.
“These measures meant we could help out by implementing the Salesforce system to manage cases, and assist with a home contact centre, which helped the charities transition to home working at a time their advice was really needed” said Matt.
The charities led a volunteer recruitment drive, providing online training and a system to ensure new volunteers had the appropriate knowledge to advise people.
“We have always felt that Deloitte is on our side, willing us on to help as many vulnerable people as possible” Valerie concluded.
The tax education gap
While the pandemic provided an opportunity for some focused work collaborating with charities, using our expertise to educate communities on tax is something we do all year round.
With so much public attention on the complexity of the UK tax system, last year, Deloitte measured the ‘tax education gap’. Working with YouGov, Deloitte carried out a survey in September 2019, to gauge knowledge across the UK.
Over 2,000 adults took part, the average person’s score was 10.6 out of a possible 30, and nearly half of all respondents scored 10 or less, showing a clear lack of personal tax knowledge.
The results also showed a clear interaction between understanding and perceptions of fairness, and Deloitte’s head of tax policy Daniel Lyons, concluded that education could be a key factor in creating an environment where citizens are (broadly) satisfied with how much tax they pay and why.
The research encouraged policymakers to consider how tax education could be developed for the British public. Since the survey was conducted, Deloitte has met with HMRC, ICAEW, the Low Income Tax Reform Group, the Institute for Government and the universities of Birmingham and Bournemouth to develop thinking and ideas on filling the tax education gap.