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CCH Business support help line

PoodlePoodle Experienced MentorRegistered Posts: 711
Dear all,

I was really dissapointed to receive a letter from the AAT today saying that they are withdrawing the CCH online support as we know it and replacing it with a 'pay as you go' with online version.

From my own point of view I have found this telephone resource invaluable since I work on my own from home. It is really nice to be able to talk problems through with a person rather than trawl through books and online screens, if we want that then cancel it alltogether. We can all 'google' and see what HMR&C have to say on their website!

I am one of the 27% of MIP's that has used the service and I would have liked to have been given the opportunity to vote (for want of a better word) on the options of change and cost implications, rather than be sent a letter advising of it's cessation with effect 10th January 2011... What a rediculous time of the year to change this.

Yes, I am aware that we are still being offered the online support but as I said sometimes you need to speak with some one. This will now cost £28.00 a hit, going up soon no doubt.

I would really like to hear from one of the MIP's that took part in the trial held in May because I was not one of them and I expect that not many other users of the service were either, since they would probably have said the same as me. "Leave it alone and let us decide if we want to continue with the service in it's present form, or not, and let us know what impact this would have on our fees so that we can make the choice in a democratic members way."

With Money Laundering we were told the cost and given the choice to opt in or out, perhaps the same could happen here, if not, why not?

CCH always take your membership number and so it would not have been difficult for some sort of consultation with actual users by the AAT.

Comments

  • SueSue Well-Known Registered Posts: 217
    Hi Poodle

    I agree with what you are saying. I took part in the trial earlier in the year. (I thought it was open to all MIP's but obviously not).

    I can't remember exactly what I said to the AAT at the time but it was along the lines that I would be very disappointed to lose the telephone support line and I would much rather have someone to discuss queries with than read something which is open to misinterpretation. I think one of the options at the time was for the fee to be increased to keep the business support line.

    I posted on the forum when the AAT announced back in October that they would be removing the telephone support but unfortunately only two people responded so I guess not many forum members use the service. The two that did respond suggested alternatives to CCH's telephone support line which is worth looking into, I will find the names for you.

    I also contacted the AAT back in October to say how disappointed I was that the service was being removed and to ask them how much it would cost for individual queries, at the time they did not know the cost, but they told me other members had said they would be passing the cost to their clients so it was not an issue for them.

    Sue
  • SueSue Well-Known Registered Posts: 217
    Hi Poodle

    The alternative that was suggested to me in place of CCH is Qdos Tax Wise.

    Sue
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    Hi Poodle and Sue.

    I believe I may have been the one who suggested Qdos Taxwise. I am again one of the 27% who have used it but I was not involved in the trial either.

    I am disappointed but as part of the Tax Investigation Insurance service I have in place for clients with Qdos I get a helpline through them.

    Although I am disappointed that the helpline is going I do to a degree see where the AAT are coming from in that if only such a small number use the service it is a waste of our membership fee. However those of us who do use it could do with having the option of a annual unlimited query option for a fee?

    Alternatively look at taking out Tax Investigation Insurance on your clients (and then re-charge it) it can be done on a client decides basis and shouldn't cost you anything.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • SueSue Well-Known Registered Posts: 217
    Hi Ian and Poodle

    I have just looked back over my emails and the trial was sent out on the March 2010 edition of 'AAT The Professional', which is an online subscription.

    Majority of my work is bookkeeping, I do very few tax returns so I would imagine the Tax Investigation Insurance would work out very expensive for the few Tax clients I have.

    Sue
  • Paul CPaul C Well-Known Registered Posts: 193
    A bit off thread so apologies. I am really hoping that the new CCH online reference topics are very good (I suppose we will find out on the 5th). As I find the cost of some business accounting books very expensive. Some of the CIPFA ones are over £150 for quite a small books. I am hoping this will save me some money - fingers crossed.
  • SevrenSevren Well-Known Registered Posts: 101
    Hello - I too was very disappointed to get the letter, the timing of the letter and the lack of consultation.

    I have no issue with a pay as you go scheme, but at £28 a pop I would very much like to know how much the existing scheme is per head. We are not going to see a reduction in the subscription costs I am assuming it must have been very good value indeed.....

    AAT's value for money is something I wonder about every year. I have put one of my team through as a student and have found that the on line method of examination doesn't work properly, this has cost me two working days and left me with a very stressed employee.

    There is a thin line between economic sensibility and doing things on the cheap.
  • wildgoose1ukwildgoose1uk Well-Known Registered Posts: 200
    Sevren wrote: »
    Hello - I too was very disappointed to get the letter, the timing of the letter and the lack of consultation.

    I have no issue with a pay as you go scheme, but at £28 a pop I would very much like to know how much the existing scheme is per head. We are not going to see a reduction in the subscription costs I am assuming it must have been very good value indeed.....

    AAT's value for money is something I wonder about every year. I have put one of my team through as a student and have found that the on line method of examination doesn't work properly, this has cost me two working days and left me with a very stressed employee.

    There is a thin line between economic sensibility and doing things on the cheap.

    I think it probably was very good value. I recently looked at a tax helpline which was mostly online help and that was about £300 pa. I have a PC from ICSA as well as AAT and all I get from ICSA is a certificate and I think 5 calls per annum FOC to the helpline.

    I have only just got my pc's but consider the AAT one to be good value given all the support they offer too.
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    I recall briefly partaking in the trial. If I recall correctly, the survey questions were worded in such a way that was always going to support the decision already made by AAT to drop it as a service.

    I also have a helpline provided by Qdos as part of their fee protection scheme, although I would often use the CCH one as well as I did not always get the same answer. In that respect it was not a necessity but I did find it generally superior to Qdos.

    I had always found it to be perhaps the best 'benefit' to AAT membership and something my ACCA and ACA counterparts were somewhat jealous of. Shame really.

    I'm surprised money is so tight. Particularly with a £600k surplus in 2009 and £6.5m net assets.
  • John HJohn H Just Joined Registered Posts: 1
    Business Support Helpline

    Hi All

    I was also very disappointed to receive the letter from the AAT informing me of the withdrawal of the CCH Business Support Helpline.

    I found this service invaluable and used it regularly to confirm my understanding of particular issues. The broad nature of the service covering all aspects of tax as well as assistance in legal matters including employment law was exactly what I need for my practice. It is the kind of service I expect from my professional association – a truly beneficial service to Members in Practice that allows us to operate efficiently and effectively, representing the association in the most positive way through our own practices and results.

    I note that the ‘consultation’ was done by email which is so easily missed nowadays when we are inundated with emails from so many other sources. The final decision, however, was deemed to be important enough to be notified to us by letter. I feel that the consultation of such an important issue should have been announced by letter to ensure full and proper discussion. After all, 27% is not an insignificant proportion of the membership.

    As far as I’m concerned, this service was, by far and above, the most valuable element of my Members In Practice subscription.

    I learned today that CCH receive a significant number of calls from AAT members, so many, in fact, that they had to increase the fee charged to the AAT and it was this increase that the AAT baulked at. I think it is very undemocratic to withdraw a service that at least 27% of members use without a more open discussion about the options and the associated impact on our fees thus allowing the members to make the decision.

    I think everybody who feels that this represents a reduction in our value for money from the AAT should write to the AAT to voice their opinion. I certainly will be!

    John FMAAT
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    Hi all,

    Just to let you know that I decided that I would raise my dissatisfaction at the withdrawal with the AAT. The response of the AAT is as follows:

    I am sorry to hear of your disappointment regarding the imminent changes to the provision of the helpline to AAT members in practice (changes will take effect from 12 January) and would like to assure you that we did undertake extensive research prior to deciding the way forward. You know have free unlimited access to CCH Online – a comprehensive package which we chose because of its excellent content, search facility and news updates. All members in practice were invited to trial the online package back in May and complete a questionnaire which also asked about the helpline. The results of this questionnaire have helped us to decide the way forward.

    Since it was first introduced in 2005 the cost of the business support helpline has increased significantly year on year due to the volume of calls made and incremental price increases from our supplier. To continue to provide the helpline as part of the MIP benefits package in 2011 we would need to significantly increase the licence fee for all members in practice. As research indicated that only a small proportion of members in practice use the helpline we considered that a fairer system would be to introduce a ‘pay as you go’ model.

    You may want to consider posting a query on the MIP discussion forum if you need reassurance about legislation, you could attend one of our Taxation update courses, attend a free branch event www.aat.org.uk/cpdevents or listen to an AAT podcast www.aat-interactive.org.uk/cpd/ to ensure your knowledge is up to date to advise your clients.

    Please be assured that we are monitoring comments and feedback from members in practice and I would like to thank you for taking the time to express your concerns.


    Some interesting points raised and in part there is some explanation but I think I'm with others that the CCH online just won't be used as much as the information is freely available elsewhere and it's sometimes you don't know what you are looking for and need to explain yourself to be understood.

    As Dean pointed out Qdos and CCH can come up with different answers. I have used Qdos and CCH on an issue before but I found Qdos to come up with a more comprehensive answer so am perfectly happy with that but that doesn't help those who don't have something similar.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    I know I've come to this a little late, and am also being a little dim.

    In the MyAAT I can see the following options (which to my knowledge haven't changed since last I looked). Are these ones changing? I don't recall a CCH helpline. I've used the Croner one a few times and it's been really helpful.
    Business support helpline

    As an AAT member in practice you have exclusive access to a free helpline provided by Croner Consulting. It offers you telephone advice and guidance in the following areas:

    * tax, VAT, PAYE, NIC
    * payroll
    * employment law and personnel
    * health and safety
    * commercial legal matters.

    To access the service simply call 0844 561 8109, quoting the scheme number - currently AAT39767 - your name and your AAT membership number. The helpline is available weekdays 09:00 to 17:00 (excluding bank holidays).

    Technical advisory helpline

    If you need assistance with a technical accounting query you can call the technical advisory helpline on 01908 248025.

    The helpline is provided by the ICAEW, and is free for AAT members. Please note that the helpline service does not cover taxation issues. For these you should consult our business support helpline or contact a taxation service provider.

    Taxation consultancy services

    Occasionally you may need tax advice in more depth than the telephone guidance provided by our business support helpline. If so, you can enjoy 15% off support and advice services from Abbey Tax Protection. Contact them using the details below, quoting your AAT membership number.
  • RachelRachel Trusted Regular FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 349
    I think the helpline goes on 12/1/11 so there is a week overlap
  • PoodlePoodle Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 711
    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond.

    Like everyone else I am really busy at the present and have not had time to compose a letter to the AAT myself, but I will when I take my week off staring 1st February as I always do !!

    I may even take the time out to attent the AGM this year as well, any one else?
  • PoodlePoodle Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 711
    Just to add,

    I wonder how much that Anti money laundering toolkit cost.

    Was anyone consulted on whether they wanted that or not ?

    Meow
  • Paul CPaul C Well-Known Registered Posts: 193
    In local Government we now have to declare / make public all spend above £500 , do AAT tell us in any detail what the subs are spent on ?
  • SueSue Well-Known Registered Posts: 217
    The helpline has now gone as I have tried to ring it today.

    I have contacted the AAT to say I was disappointed that the helpline was being taken away as it was the main reason I kept my Membership, but all they came back with was that other Members had told them that they would pass the cost of the helpline onto their clients.

    Perhaps if enough people were interested we could start our own group subscription and maybe just ask the AAT if they would be a central point and collect the money?
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    Monsoon wrote: »
    I don't recall a CCH helpline. I've used the Croner one a few times and it's been really helpful.

    Same company (Wolters Kluwer).
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