This year the OTS has been collaborating with Manchester Business School (MBS) on the competitiveness review. Their class of third year accounting students contributed to the review by analysing the tax system of countries which do well in the World Bank’s paying taxes report 2014, and identifying lessons for the UK.
The OTS went to MBS to talk to the students and set the project in motion in February, together with PwC who manage the tax section of the World Bank’s report. The students made a return visit to the OTS in March to discuss their progress and the culmination was poster presentations in May at MBS encapsulating their findings. An invitation to visit the Treasury was offered to the students that produced the best three projects, and was taken up by Nilay who co-produced a study on Rwanda and the Seychelles, and by Danielle and Farhana, who worked together to study tax administration in Finland. (The duo who worked on Ireland and Nilay’s colleague were unable to join us.) They were accompanied by lecturer Penny Clarke who leads the teaching of the module.
During the visit on the 25 June organised by the OTS, the students had a tour of the Treasury building, met with a technical tax director on secondment to OTS, and a civil servant involved in tax policy making.
The highlight of the visit was meeting with David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary. He quizzed them on what they enjoyed about the project and how they thought the UK tax system could be improved. The students asked some astute questions about the media and political impact on the ministers and tax policy. The Minister then presented the students with prizes to mark their achievements.
The OTS will be reflecting on how it engages with organisations such as universities, with a view to strengthening networks so that both government and universities can benefit from future collaborative work. In addition, the analysis of some 20 countries’ tax systems is providing useful input to the OTS competitiveness review.