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At a recent Treasury Select Committee hearing on the digitisation plans, representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses, Institute for Chartered Accountants for England & Wales, and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants all shared concerns around the costs associated with the changes, the timescale and the lack of a proper impact assessment.
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There was a big uproar following last year’s Autumn Statement, in which the then-Chancellor George Osborne outlined plans to “Make Tax Digital” for the self-employed and small businesses by 2018.
It sparked a great deal of concern from many sectors, and a petition to reverse the plans reached over 114,504 signatures leading to a debate in Parliament.
Many open standards already exist in the software industry, in almost every niche. No two ticketing systems are compatible between regions. This is a massive inefficiency, and a tremendous barrier to tourists and domestic travelers alike to might want to use public transport around the country.
How could governments tendering for these systems been so short sighted?
Everyone knows that to compete in the software industry, you need to offer full compatibility with the market leaders.
Examples of these proprietary standards include network communication protocols, application programmer interfaces (APIs), and file formats.The other solution is to adopt an open standard for ticketing, like this one.In other parts of the world, public transport ticketing systems do this, and travel cards can be used throughout entire countries.The only viable means for facilitating competition in software is to ensure that the "interfaces" with which people and data interact with software are built to conform with open standards.Although conforming with open standards does not guarantee practical compatibility, it provides an objective metric for judging where problems with compatibility lie, because compliance with an open standard can be assessed by independent parties.
It would be equivalent to a bridge builder rejecting compliance with engineering and safety open standards because doing so would disallow their use of untested materials and practices that might endanger workers or the general public.