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It has been six months since the deployment of the Incomes Register. Now is a good time to take stock of how the new system has affected the customers and operators who use it.
All in all, the Incomes Register has been a successful project so far. Building the system was a major undertaking for the Finnish Tax Administration, which is responsible for its operation. It took a systematic effort to deploy the Incomes Register on schedule.
Major changes were introduced to payroll administration software to make existing applications compatible with the new system. Payroll information quickly began to accumulate in the Incomes Register despite the large number of different software suites in use. The Employment Fund received a total of 22,930,405 payroll information notices via the Incomes Register during the first six months. By June, the Fund had issued 114,444 decisions and bills based on the information. In other words, the introduction of the Incomes Register has also affected the Employment Fund’s routines.
Most customers adopted the Incomes Register without a hitch. Considering the scale of the reform and the large number of customers, there have been much fewer issues than what the most pessimistic forecasts predicted. There is still a lot to do, however. Editing data in the Incomes Register appears to be one thing that customers struggle with, and more training and technological improvements are therefore still needed.
Accounting firms, which have fielded the trickiest teething problems, are worthy of a special mention. Not every aspect of the new system is yet running as it should, but accounting firms have managed admirably. Although issues have been few considering the total number of cases, the few problems that have cropped up have been a big headache for accounting firms, which deserve a big thank-you for their patience and level-headed approach to the transition.
The first benefit information will be entered into the Incomes Register in 2021, a year later than originally planned. Postponing the introduction of the new component was a good decision, as it gives the developers time to iron out the biggest kinks that currently plague the reporting of payroll information. Work towards the deployment of the benefit component of the Incomes Register nevertheless continues as before, and the Employment Fund still intends to begin using the payroll information held in the Incomes Register to grant adult education allowances in 2020.
One big change for the authorities that use the data held in the Incomes Register has been the creation of a new partnership network. Improving the Incomes Register is, and should be, a collaborative effort. Genuine cooperation requires exchanging information and views in a number of ways: daily interactions and routines but also strategic planning and tactical prioritisation.
Monitoring and evaluating progress are also vital for successful deployment. It will be interesting to see how customer satisfaction has evolved in the organisations that have adopted the Incomes Register. It will also be useful to share these lessons with other operators.
The network has got off to a good start. Everyone has the right attitude towards working together, which creates a great foundation for the further development of this nationally critical system. The Employment Fund wants to play an active role in the network and to share our know-how with the community.
Persons applying for a scholarship for qualified employee and adult education allowance will have access to the renewed online customer service from 2 January onwards. At the same time, we will gain access to salary information in the Incomes Register to use in granting adult education allowance.
Lifelong learning and adult education are topical issues not only in Finland but also elsewhere in Europe.