ONLY a few places separate a Taunton accountant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a list of the most powerful people in UK finance.

Paul Aplin, partner at AC Mole and Sons, is number seven in the 2014 Financial Power List compiled by Accountancy Age; just three places higher on the list is Chancellor George Osborne.

Mr Aplin, a regular County Gazette columnist, is just two places behind Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who is fifth, and is ahead of eighth-placed Margaret Hodge, who chairs the influential Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Aplin's awards entry says: “Aplin and his firm AC Mole have had a pioneering role in accounting technology in the UK.

“So much so, that HM Revenue & Customs regularly directly consult the firm on technological changes.

“Over the last year, Aplin has campaigned tirelessly for continuing provision of relaxations to real-time PAYE requirements for the smallest businesses, something that earned him an Outstanding Achievement Award at last year's British Accountancy Awards.

“This year is likely to see him continue that work as the government and HMRC seek to complete the roll-out.”

Mr Aplin said: “Few in Whitehall have first -hand experience of the practical issues faced by small businesses.

“I've tried to redress that by encouraging policy makers to visit the front line in order to see things through the eyes of those their policies affect. When they do, things change.”