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HMRC’s RTI awareness campaign covers old and new media channels

March 11, 2013

HMRC has released a British Pathe film explaining the launch of Pay As You Earn in 1944 as part of its campaign to alert employers to the introduction of the real-time reporting of PAYE. Real Time Information or ‘RTI’ which is being introduced by law on 6th April 2013 for all but the very largest UK employers, requires them to report PAYE to HMRC every time they pay their staff.

The film, produced by the Ministry of Information on behalf of HMRC’s predecessor, the Inland Revenue and distributed by British Pathe to UK cinemas, is in what HMRC describes as “the 1940s style”. Although the film harks back to a different age, it does show the first response of the taxpayer on receipt of HMRC’s letter notifying the introduction of PAYE, is to throw the letter unopened into the waste paper basket.

The limited levels of awareness of RTI consistently reported by business surveys in previous months, and reported by, appear to suggest that HMRC continues to struggle with getting its message across now as in 1944.

HMRC has written twice to UK employers about the introduction of RTI, in October 2012 and last month in February 2013. HMRC’s post letter in February was its last. HMRC has instead has relied heavily on new digital media channels to get its message on RTI over to business, including YouTube and Twitter. Although these digital channels may be the modern day equivalent of 1940s cinema newsreels, it is not clear whether YouTube and Twitter are achieving the circulation among employers HMRC needs to communicate sufficient awareness of RTI. A high level of employer awareness of RTI is necessary to ensure its smooth implementation.

Some 1.4 million employers will join RTI automatically on 6th April to coincide with the start of the new tax year. However, HMRC’s total followers on Twitter number 45,200 and views of HMRC’s YouTube video available since July 2012 now stand at just under 10,500. This compares to Sage, the UK payroll software supplier whose YouTube RTI video has received 23,000 views.

As part of HMRC’s final efforts to promote awareness of RTI ahead of its launch date, HMRC are running a week long question and answer session on Twitter all this week, from Monday 11th to Friday 15th March using the hashtag, #RTIqa.

Kitty O’Leary, of has commented “We hope that HMRC’s awareness campaign succeeds in getting the message on RTI through to employers, but it’s still a concern at this late stage that business surveys indicate limited awareness among a significant minority.”

“Advance preparation is essential because employers need to cleanse and check their employee records to ensure employer reporting is communicated smoothly to HMRC’s new RTI systems.”

The 1944 Ministry of Information film can be seen here:

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