More on Making Tax Digital – Demise of the Spreadsheet

Tim Fouracre (founder of accounting software Clear Books) has suggested that HMRC’s concession to allow the continued use of spreadsheets for MTD is a ridiculous backward step; that HMRC are missing an opportunity to correct all the VAT errors, supposedly caused by spreadsheet records.
If Tim Fouracre believes that all business records maintained using software such as Clear Books are accurate and without error, then he inhabits a different world to me. He refers to ‘garbage in – garbage out’ as though it applies exclusively to the use of spreadsheets. I can assure him it does not.
I would not disagree that accounting software, operated correctly and as originally intended by the developers, is capable of providing correct accounts, VAT records and meaningful information for business owners. If he believes all accounting software is operated in this way and that businesses actually make use of the potentially useful information available from the software, I would welcome a visit to his planet.
We have a controlled spreadsheet capable of producing the basic information from which to prepare accounts and creating the necessary figures for VAT returns. The reason we advocate its use is the comparative ease with which clients can understand how to use it and continue to use it correctly.  In spite of this and in spite of HMRC’s apparent concession, our very practical spreadsheet solution is unlikely to survive MTD.  It is unlikely that any software will be developed capable of integrating with a multitude of spreadsheet formats sufficient to satisfy the ‘link’ requirement between the original spreadsheet record and the API facility transmitting the information to HMRC.
In theory this should represent more work for us – helping, teaching, correcting – but at a cost affordable to the very small businesses involved?  If not, who do you think picks up the cost?