Since my last statement we have seen changes on the England and Wales Regional Committee with the retirement of Keith Dudley, George Lyall, Gary Killmister and Carol Cummins. I would like to acknowledge their collective contributions over the years – especially Keith and George who have been so integrally involved in the development of STEP from its origins less than 25 years ago.
As you may be aware, Peter McGeown, Denese Molyneux, Duncan Gardner, Deborah Jude and Amanda Simmonds were elected to either STEP’s worldwide Council or the England and Wales Regional Committee and so will formally be attending their first Committee meeting in January. I am also glad to report that Cheryl Farnham has been co-opted to the Committee. Cheryl has attended in her capacity as chair of the UK Practice Committee from which she will soon be standing down. Cheryl has made a great contribution to both Committees already and we look forward to her continued input.
We have come an enormously long way from our small beginnings in 1991 and the worldwide nature of the organisation is now an enormous strength. It is always tremendously heartening to hear from George Hodgson and Sean Smith in STEP’s policy team on how well-received are the representations made by STEP on fiscal and other issues. The international input and extent of STEP plays its part in this. Recently STEP has been very involved in addressing the potential implications of the proposed Common Reporting Standard with HMRC and other bodies. George Hodgson has visited a number of branches on this topic and members’ feedback has been invaluable.
In this regard I would again like to thank the unsung work of the Technical and Practice Committee members and those on the special interest group committees. Without their commitment and generosity in terms of time and expertise we would not be able to respond to the many consultations and proposals or make the representations that we do as a Society.
Volunteering was an issue that was mentioned at STEP’s Leaders’ Forum, held earlier this month in London and attended by representatives from all over the world. I am conscious how each branch relies heavily on the goodwill of, often, a small number of dedicated members. May I take this opportunity to thank you, and recognise your hard work. The local branch is a vital part of the Society providing regular opportunities for education and networking – making and maintaining friendships. If you are not already involved at some level, please do see if there are ways that you too can be involved: you will almost certainly gain more than you give.
The Leaders’ Forum picked up on the feedback you gave as to the priorities for your branch. There was a general recognition that we need to strengthen the brand and raise the profile of the Society. A variety of suggestions were made ranging from actions individual members can take through to branch and national level. The various ideas and suggestions from the Forum are being collated and will be discussed in part at the Branch Chairs’ Assembly in February.
I trust you all have a good break over the Christmas and New Year period, however long or short this may be. It seems to be the one time of year that our inboxes do not overflow in our absence. Having said that, I read today that, last year, 1,566 people filed their tax return on 25 December and over 17,000 on 24 December! I hope you have more pleasurable things to do!