Originally published: http://data.gov.uk/blog/open-data-user-group-odug-response-to-hmrc-data-sharing-consultation

Open Data User Group (ODUG) Response to HMRC data sharing consultation – September 2013

Last December ODUG made the case for the release of the UK Vat Register as Open Data. As a result, in July this year HMRC opened a consultation on Sharing and publishing data for public benefit. This consultation has just closed and the ODUG response is published below.

ODUG welcomes HMRC’s work in this area which has been open and collaborative and also gratefully acknowledges the support of the other stakeholders we have worked with in our response to the consultation.

We fully endorse the need to safeguard against the release of private information in all areas and HMRC’s need to protect against the release of private data.

However, the key finding in our response to the consultation is that a European Consultation service, VIES already allows anyone to verify the validity of a VAT number issued by any EU Member State, on-line and free of charge. This sets a precedent for the release of address-level information against registered VAT numbers which, we believe, mitigates against any significant risk associated with HMRC choosing to release the same level of information in an Open UK VAT Register.

We look forward to HMRC’s response to this consultation and, hopefully, the release of an Open Vat Register for the UK in the near future. This will bring significant benefits to the economy, including an estimated benefit of £50 billion to UK PLC through improved access to funding for small businesses, also potential improvements in the the efficiency of tax collections to deliverinternal cost savings and greater tax revenue.

Heather SavoryChair ODUG

Read full response: 201310 ODUG Response to HMRC Data Sharing Consultation