Gov.uk gets off to shaky start

The government launched gov.uk last week, replacing both the businesslink.gov.uk business support site and DirectGov.

From now on, those seeking advice on issues ranging from money and tax issues such as VAT rates and council tax bands, to crime, citizenship or setting up and running a limited company will be redirected to gov.uk

The government's objective is to provide "simpler, clearer and faster" access to government services, in contrast to the DirectGov website, which laboured on with the same design for the past eight years. 

Gov.uk appears to have fulfilled this brief on the design side, with information displayed clearly and concisely, if somewhat sparsely, in columns of headline links with short explanations. You can almost smell the fresh paint.

But AccountingWEB members raised concerns about some of the website's content. 

"Just had a quick look around the tax and company sections and found a handful of howlers straight away. This is dangerous, they've simplified it far too much and those writing the web pages clearly haven't enough knowledge or experience," said Ken Howard.

Continued...

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Comments

What a load of rubbish    1 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

Just had a quick look around the tax and company sections and found a handful of howlers straight away.  This is dangerous - they've simplified it far too much and those writing the web pages clearly haven't enough knowledge/experience.

Since when have dividends been shown gross (inc tax credit) in a company's accounts for example?  Or that notes to the statutory accounts are voluntary "if you want to provide more detail".

I'm taking some screen shots of the more obvious errors as I'm sure that people will be relying on it being accurate and could end up with fines and by then, the Govt will have corrected their website and claim that they were right from the outset.

Someone with proper experience and knowledge should have proof-read this first.

Paul Scholes's picture

Wouldn't go that far

Paul Scholes | | Permalink

Tis the way of the IT world I fear, doesn't matter whether it's private or public sector, most new websites need some settling in.  I found a broken link within 30 seconds.

Still I welcome the combination into one portal.

Ken, as well as taking screenshots to use as ammunition have you also clicked on the "Is something wrong with this page" link to tell them?

And the list keeps growing    2 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

Yes, I've reported quite a few errors to them already.

There's also a wonderful thread over on UK business forums where people are posting errors as they find them - some classic ones on there already.

http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=274880

 

Why didn't they keep the BL content?    4 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

I can't understand why they've re-written it - there was loads of decent content in the business link website which they could have copied and paste.  It had taken years to build up some really good information on the BL website which now appears to be binned.  That's such a waste.

Locutus's picture

"Why didn't they keep the BL content?"    1 thanks

Locutus | | Permalink

My thoughts as well Ken ... just take the BL logo off and put the gov.uk logo on and review to remove duplicated content between the two duplicated sites.

I can't help thinking another £x million has been wasted in the re-write, which didn't need to be spent.

It's not even helpful at Noddy level

Ken Howard | | Permalink

Just noticed that there's absolutely nothing about business insurance on the website.

The Govt have managed to include all kinds of stuff about laws and links to other Govt websites, but completely missed the legal requirement for employers liability insurance.  No advice or comment at all about any kind of business insurance.  

Not very helpful is it?

A new business/new employer could rely on the website to do things like the H&S, anti discrimination etc., and follow the website, and completely miss the fact that employers liability insurance is a legal requirement.

A new business could follow the website for tax registrations, company formation, etc., and miss the need for property insurance,. or public liability insurance, etc.

I really worry what else they have missed out on.

People really shouldn't be relying on the website, and yet the Govt is encouraging them to do so.  It's madness.

I've now emailed my local MP and directly to Vince Cable - others need to do so.

We need the Business Link content restored.

dialm4accounts's picture

Another one...

dialm4accounts | | Permalink

I've just found another one

https://www.gov.uk/prepare-file-annual-accounts-for-limited-company/prep...

Since when did the P&L show "how much money the company has received and spent"?

I shall be writing to Vince Cable too!

M

bookmarklee's picture

Even worse than the mistakes....

bookmarklee | | Permalink

It looks like one of those sites that purports to be a genuine one but has in fact been set up to mislead people who mistype the name of the site they really wanted.

I only knew about the new site from reading about it on twitter (thanks Elaine). When i went to renew my car tax disc on line I had to treble check i was going via a genuine official site.

The new style and layout may, effectively, allow many of the fake sites (that have asimilar layout) to appear more genuine than is really the case.

Bad move!

Mark

Change Management !

mikewhit | | Permalink

No doubt an Evil Buzzword to many of you, but control of these situations is what the subject is all about.

Let us hope that all of the old BL etc content is still there in their CMS  (Content Management System) and avaiable to be re-used.

Let's also hope that all link URLs from other sites have not just gone to "404 - Page Not Found"

A POSITIVE MESSAGE    1 thanks

AWebbie | | Permalink

Got to GOV.UK by mistake and immediately found the answer to the Termination Pay question I wanted answered. The interface is about 10,000% better than the predecessors. Thank you Gov. And please, all you other members, go on complaining and filing the errors so that I don't have to!

Incidentally, Gov.uk seems to work better than this web site. I couldn't type anything into this box until I had disabled Rich Text and deleted all the coding script that came up in the Comment box. [Note to web site developers -- I am using and Intel Mac and Sarari under 10.6.8 and I have Flash permanently disabled]

petersaxton's picture

Copyright

petersaxton | | Permalink

Ken Howard wrote:

I can't understand why they've re-written it - there was loads of decent content in the business link website which they could have copied and paste.  It had taken years to build up some really good information on the BL website which now appears to be binned.  That's such a waste.

Maybe the copyright was with the previous maintainer.

petersaxton's picture

Mark

petersaxton | | Permalink

bookmarklee wrote:

It looks like one of those sites that purports to be a genuine one but has in fact been set up to mislead people who mistype the name of the site they really wanted.

I only knew about the new site from reading about it on twitter (thanks Elaine). When i went to renew my car tax disc on line I had to treble check i was going via a genuine official site.

The new style and layout may, effectively, allow many of the fake sites (that have asimilar layout) to appear more genuine than is really the case.

Bad move!

Mark

Too true. I found the website when doing a search and I clicked off it straight away. It was only when I looked more closely at the search results that I realised it was a genuine site.

Why does AccountingWeb UK use a US spell checker?

Well being the eternal pessimist

Exector | | Permalink

Well being the eternal pessimist, from a personal professional point of view, my heart sank at the slightly throw away inclusion toward the end of the article:

 

"Further changes enhancements will include the migration of other departmental sites in 2013, according to Bracken"

 

God help us all  if it is intended to include the HMRC site. Its already struggling to be fit for purpose being maintianed (or not) as a specialist site. Goodness only knows how low the standards will fall if it has to take its chances wth all the other content intended for Gov.uk. It would be a bad move, "in times of austerity " or not. Oscar Wilde springs to mind. Those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

johnjenkins's picture

Interesting that    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

there is a "anything wrong with this page" message. Maybe instead of a before consultaion Gov.uk are having an after one. With us doing all the work.

elainec100's picture

already asked about that .....

elainec100 | | Permalink

I have asked this of Emer Coleman ...

 

Emer – can you please confirm that the HMRC web site (and of course all of the content on it) is NOT within the scope of the gov.uk project and that the HMRC web site will NOT be replaced by content on gov.uk – now or at any time in the future.

Can I also widen the scope here to include the same question for the Companies House web site.

 

See post #155 on this thread at UK Business Forums.....

http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=274880&page=16

 

I have also tweeted het this question and await her response.

She has responded to our queries so far.

FYI Emer Coleman is ...

Deputy Director Digital Engagement Government Digital

From what I understand, she is "responsible" for the project (judging by the tweets in her time line).

 

When I have the answer I will of course share.

There is a obvious Crown

SimonBlackham | | Permalink

There is a obvious Crown Copyright at the bottom right (rather than the small wording at the bottom left hand on other sites eg HMRC.gov.uk) - which makes copyright infringement subject to stringent penalties - and should therefore 'guarantee' a safe website.

I note that the HMRC pages now(??) all(??) have a small "gov.uk" at the bottom right.

 

nigel's picture

Video?

nigel | | Permalink

I can't help thinking that a website that needs a video to explain how it works really hasn't been designed all that well!

MH1982's picture

Shame

MH1982 | | Permalink

First thoughts:

It looks rubbish.

The link to the DVLA Vehicle check remains  

The extensive capital allowances info from Business Link seems to have been binned and replaced by a couple of lines basically saying businesses can claim capital allowances

In summary, good idea in principle (to combine the two very useful websites into one), in practice not so much (they seem to have ruined both)

 

Tom 7000's picture

Scrap it

Tom 7000 | | Permalink

The whole thing should just be scrapped and that would save another £50m. If the citizens of the UK want help understanding law or tax legislation, they should either get a law degree or tip up in our offices with their  debit card and get some accurate professional  help

See its win win for the Govt and us

 

You boys are looking at this all wrong ;o)

Philip Hoyle's picture

Old website in National Archive    2 thanks

Philip Hoyle | | Permalink

The old Business Link website is available in the National Archive, so at least for the short term, it's valuable content is still available.  Just have to remember that it won't be updated so the law and figures will become out of date.  But still, highly useful for the factsheets, guidance, downloads, etc.  

Perhaps if we all carried on using the archived BL website, the powers may sit up and take notice that the gov.uk is inadequate for business needs.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121009160823/http://www.busi...

@elainec100

Exector | | Permalink

Well I await your further report, but not in much hope of any clear cut statement. I have always been inclined to fear the worst from this shower over recent years and I have never been disappointed yet.

Don't break the links

mikewhit | | Permalink

Looks like the government takes no notice of one of its Olympic poster-boys, Mr. Tim Berners-Lee at the W3 Consortium:

Cool URIs don't change

elainec100's picture

@exector

elainec100 | | Permalink

Exector wrote:

Well I await your further report, but not in much hope of any clear cut statement. I have always been inclined to fear the worst from this shower over recent years and I have never been disappointed yet.

 

I fear you may be right :-)

Beta version?    1 thanks

Exector | | Permalink

I have just visited the ukbusiness forums link posted by Elaine above and the situation is even worse and more absurd than  I gleaned from the original article posted above. How on earth can anyone decide to create a new website set up for a nationwide Government Service for God's sake and simply remove the sites it was desigend to replace before any real world testing at all!!  It absolutely beggars belief. The amount of road tested and critically examined and refined information that looks to have been  irretrievably lost from the Businesslink website in particular is enough to render the "austerity times" and cost saving justifications of these Titanic deckchair changes entirely otiose. I called the people behind this an absolute shower, but having read more about it now, a more accurate  but prudently edited collective description from me would just lead to a string of asterisks!

elainec100's picture

economia article

elainec100 | | Permalink

economia have also covered this here:

 

http://economia.icaew.com/Business/October-2012/Government-criticised-over-new-business-information-site

 

and Accountancy here .... click

 

 

Try finding Commodity Codes -

Mary Frost | | Permalink

Try finding Commodity Codes - Total nightmare. It was not particularly easy before on the old site; but far far better than on the new site

johnjenkins's picture

Try finding

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Willy. I thought I saw his hat but it was a link to spec savers.

elainec100's picture

Another howler uncovered by

elainec100 | | Permalink

Another howler uncovered by Philip Hoyle .....

 

"You can’t use the scheme if:
you use the VAT Cash Accounting Scheme"

https://www.gov.uk/vat-flat-rate-scheme/eligibility

 

Oh dear

petersaxton's picture

I do like    2 thanks

petersaxton | | Permalink

"You can join the Flat Rate Scheme if:

  • you’re a VAT-registered business"

I couldn't imagine many people rushing to join if they are not VAT registered.

elainec100's picture

As feared ...

elainec100 | | Permalink

Just received this tweet ....

“@emercoleman: @cheapaccounting @AccountingWEBuk Its a single domain for government all departments migrate over time all details on our blog”

That includes HMRC

HMRC will migrate to gov.uk

Do not shoot the messenger!

Well there you go then

Exector | | Permalink

Mature government response. Fingers in ears nah nah nah..... we can't hear you.

 

We had just better pray that all of the brickbats they have received on the intial set up make them more risk averse & very careful and therefore willing to spend a little more time, effort and if needs be, money, to ensure that the HMRC site isn't as equally dysfunctional after the seemingly inevitably transfer (TINA seems to have been reborn).

Hello there

mackthefork | | Permalink

Sorry for the slight hijack, but in anticipation of HMRC website becoming entirely useless, does anyone know if the manuals are in print anywhere, and if so where can they be purchased from.

Regards

MtF

Constantly Confused's picture

Creepy

Constantly Confused | | Permalink

Can I say it gives one an odd sense of deja vu to read an article then read parts of the article in the comments made seemingly after the article was written...

HMRC manuals

raychidell | | Permalink

In reply to mackthefork, the manuals are available in electronic form from the big tax publishers, including CCH.

I did look into publishing some of the key manuals in hard copy when I launched Claritax Books last year. In the end I decided against it because I was not convinced that the demand would justify the work in getting them into a decent format, especially if they are to be indexed etc. The main problem is that the manuals are changed so often. For example, the Employment Income Manual has been updated five times so far this year and the SDLT one has had nine updates and counting. Some of the manuals are also huge.

I am pretty sure that nobody publishes them in paper form, but stand to be corrected if appropriate.

Ray

www.claritaxbooks.com

 

recuitment software's picture

Not a fan

recuitment software | | Permalink

Not a fan of the massive picture in the middle kinda makes the page kind of cluttered.

BKD's picture

Sorry, but the pedant in me just had to respond

BKD | | Permalink

"You can’t use the scheme if:
you use the VAT Cash Accounting Scheme
"

It doesn't actually say that - what it says is that you can't use the FRS with Cash Accounting, because FRS has instead what is known as the cash-based turnover method. Of course, in a practical sense, it makes sod all difference - to all intents and purposes cash accounting and cash-based turnover method are one and the same.