HMRC comes out
of the office to support customers in Merseyside who need extra help
A new, flexible,
face-to-face support service for customers who need extra help with
their taxes, tax credits and child benefit entitlements will be
rolled out in Merseyside by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) this
Following a successful s7 month trial in the north east of England,
the new service will provide expert advisers to resolve issues on
the phone, in-depth, in one go. It will also provide mobile adviser
support at a range of convenient locations for those who need a
The phone advisers will be able to bring HMRC experts together in a
single call to resolve multiple issues, without transferring
customers around different parts of HMRC to different advisers who
each deal with a separate issue.
For those who need a personal appointment; HMRC's mobile advisers
will meet them at a range of venues, from government and community
buildings to a person's own home or business; at a time that suits
Customers who need extra help on any HMRC issue; from help with a
tax return, to assistance with a tax credits claim; will be
identified and referred to the new service by both HMRC's existing
helpline phone advisers and by voluntary sector partners.
Following the launch of the new service in May 2014, the current
Enquiry Centre network across Merseyside will close.
Ruth Owen, HMRC's Director General for Personal Tax, said:-
"HMRC is dedicated to providing help to customers when they need it.
The pilot showed that this is a valuable service for those who
cannot get the help they need elsewhere. Our Enquiry Centres offer a
great service to those who can reach them. But they are spread
unevenly across the UK, the number of people using them continues to
fall, and our research shows that the majority of customers who do
use them don't actually need to. The new service will enable us to
tailor help in a way that works better and is more affordable. Our
specialised phone service will help customers whose affairs can be
resolved over the telephone, and our face-to-face help will be
available to those who need it, visiting them at a place convenient
HMRC will also make more funding and support available for voluntary
sector organisations to help them to deal with customers who turn to
them for help.
The new service will save customers around £17 million a year in
lost time and travel costs, and will save taxpayers over £27 million
a year, as a result of the closure of the Enquiry Centre network.
Only a very small minority of HMRC's 40 million customers ever use
one of the 281 Enquiry Centres, and demand halved, from 5 million
visitors in 2005/06 to fewer than 2 million in 2013. Some centres
are now open just one day a week as a result of the sharp drop in
demand. Of the customers using an Enquiry Centre in 2013, just 11%
needed a face-to-face appointment.
HMRC is discussing the impacts of these changes with staff in
Enquiry Centres and its unions.
Military charity welcomes Lord
Ashcroft's Veterans' Transition Review
LORD Ashcroft KCMG PC
published the Veterans' Transition Review, on 12 February 2014, his
report examining the transition of Armed Forces personnel from their
military careers to civilian life at the end of their service.
The independent Review has consulted widely with the Armed Forces,
the MOD and other government bodies, industry and the 3rd Sector,
and has heard directly from hundreds of Service Leavers about their
experience of transition.
Ian Waller, Acting Chief Executive
for BLESMA; The Limbless Veterans was invited to the review and
welcomed the report. He said:- "We think the review
represents genuine progress in recognising the real value of ex
servicemen and women in the workplace and encouraging the broader
business community to support us. It's also very encouraging that
the review is looking at consolidating the military charity sector
so that we can all work closer with each other to ensure that our
Armed Forces are getting the best support and advice from the
In his role as the Prime Minister's Special Representative on
Veterans' Transition Lord Ashcroft has considered the policies and
provision for Service Leavers in areas including education,
training, employment, health, housing, welfare, finance and
information. He has also looked at the operation of Service
charities and the role of advocacy, including the delivery of the
Armed Forces Covenant. BLESMA; The Limbless Veterans is the national
charity for all limbless service men and women, their widows and
dependants. It was formed in the years following the First World War
and became a national charity in 1932.
Socialisation Plan launches to get Britain's dogs back on track!
ALMOST 1 in 5 dog owners
admit that they are never or rarely in control of their dogs when
out on a walk and half claim to be embarrassed by their dog's
behaviour in public, according to research from dog welfare
organisations, the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust.
The research shows that puppies that weren't properly socialised and
introduced positively to new situations in the earliest months of
their life are the most likely to give their owners trouble. With
12% of dogs being given away due to easily avoidable behaviour
problems, urgent action needs to be taken to give dogs a better
start in life.
Common problems that owners face on a frequent basis include their
dogs jumping at people (29%), their dogs being anxious of being left
alone (26%), their dogs being scared of people with facial hair
(18%) and their dogs being fearful of household appliances (13%). A
further 55% say that their dogs have been known to show antisocial
behaviour (such as barking, growling, snapping or biting) towards
other dogs, and 35% show antisocial behaviour towards people.
However, the research also showed that dogs who were well socialised
and had positive experiences of other dogs, children, a range of
people and noises in the home and outside of it, are significantly
more likely to be well-mannered and confident adult dogs.
It showed that dogs that were not well socialised were 25% more
likely to show antisocial behavior (barking, growling, snapping or
biting) towards other dogs and almost twice as likely to show
antisocial behavior towards people, than those dogs that had been
well socialised as a puppies. On many occasions these antisocial
tendencies are driven by anxiety or fear, with dogs that were poorly
socialised as pups being three times more likely to show anxiety
around new people, and twice as likely to show anxiety around other
dogs and new household noises, compared to those that were well
To help tackle the problem of poor socialisation, the Kennel Club
and Dogs Trust have launched the first ever step-by-step Puppy
Socialisation Plan for breeders, rehoming centres and then new
owners to follow. The plan lays out steps that will build puppies'
confidence around everything from household appliances and traffic
noises, to new ground surfaces, and a range of people, from those
with hats and beards, to children. The breeder or rescue home will
work through the first eight weeks, recording each step through a
series of diary entries, photos or videos and this is then passed
onto the new owner to continue.
Carolyn Menteith, a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor who developed
the plan for the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, said:- "The first
four months of a pups' life are when a puppy is developing his soft
skills; in other words his social behaviours and how he responds to
new and novel things. Failure to expose them to a wide range of
different experiences in this early period means that they often
struggle to deal with new situations later on. A lot of the problems
that we see in dogs, from aggression to all the behaviours that
arise through fear such as noise phobias and separation issues; as
well as poor learning skills and many training problems; can be
prevented if they are taught lots of new experiences from the very
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said:- "We must
remember that most behavioural problems in dogs, including
aggression, noise phobia, separation anxiety, over-reactivity and
learning problems, are not down to the dog wanting to be bad but are
often because they are fearful, anxious or struggling to know how
they should deal with a situation. This research overwhelmingly
shows that putting in the hard miles at the beginning, when it comes
to early socialisation and exposure to new experiences, will reap
rewards in terms of a dog's future behaviour and state of mind. We
trialled the Puppy Socialisation Plan amongst some of our Kennel
Club Assured Breeders and both breeders and dog owners who have used
it have said that they've never had such calm or well adjusted dogs.
We urge breeders and puppy owners to use the plan so that dogs are
happier and more obedient, which will solve lots of problems in the
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, said:- "One of
the major reasons that dogs are handed in to rehoming charities such
as Dogs Trust is behaviour issues; in many cases easily avoided
behaviour issues. Our specialist training and behaviour staff work
hard to help dogs with such problems and most are successfully
rehomed as a result. The Puppy Socialisation Plan is used across our
network of 18 rehoming centres and we encourage new owners to
continue the plan once their 4 legged family member is home to
ensure they remain as happy and well-socialised as possible. Dogs
are expected to fit into many different family units which could
include any combination of adults, children, dogs, cats and much
more. They will have to accept the often loud and unpredictable
sounds of their new homes; they will have to learn to be left alone
when we can't take them out; they need to learn not to herd
children, chase the cat, knock over granny, steal the Sunday dinner,
or threaten the postman, or anyone else! It's up to us, as their
carers, to provide them with the early groundwork in order to cope
with all the varieties of life."
To find out more about the Puppy Socialisation Plan visit:-