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Are RTI pilot numbers a bit of a hash up?

December 27, 2012


HMRC's Real Time Information pilot may not be performing as well as HMRC have maintained, a written Parliamentary answer has revealed.

Despite assurances from HMRC that its pilot is on track, HMRC has not been able to reconcile 29% of the RTI payment and reporting submissions it has received since the pilot began in April 2012.

This process, known as hash matching, allows HMRC to reconcile employers RTI internet returns made over the Government Gateway with payments made via the direct BACS payment channel using a BACS Service User Number.

In total, since April, 7,455,297 hash records have been reconciled, but 3,082,001 have not. The figures for November, the most recent month for which data was given, show 25.4% of hash records could not be reconciled.

These figures were given by David Gauke MP, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on behalf of HMRC on 17 December in reply to questions put by Stephen Timms MP.

They appear to contradict the assurances given by HMRC to the Treasury Select Committee as recently as 31 October when Ruth Owen, HMRC's Head of Real Time Information, told the Committee "hash matching at the moment [that] is at 95% accuracy".

Lin Homer, Head of HMRC, sitting alongside Ruth Owen, told the same Committee hearing "the pilot has gone really well".

David Gauke’s statement said "there are a variety of reasons why RTI submissions may not be matched to a [BACS] hash cross reference".
He said hash matching was not possible for schemes that have recently joined the RTI system where the PAYE scheme is still going through the RTI alignment process and "HMRC have also identified that in some cases hash cross references are being included in RTI submissions where the employer is not paying their employees under a BACS Service User Number."

The written answer also confirmed that currently there are some 24,000 employers in HMRC's RTI pilot, indicating that HMRC will fall short of the numbers of pilot employers - up to 250,000 - it anticipated reaching by the end of March 2013.

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