HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Nearly Man - Always The Bridesmaid

Dave HartnettRegular readers will doubtless recall that I have on numerous occasions referred to "acting Chairman" of HMRC Dave Hartnett as being the "nearly man", always the bridesmaid but never the bride.

Indeed you will also recall that I have asked on several occasions why it is that the "acting" part of his title has not been removed, or at the very least he is replaced with a more permanent person.

Well, it seems that those "in charge" of HMRC have been reading this site and have finally taken my advice.

Ladies and Gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to inform you that Dave's "nearly man" days are at an end, up to a point; he is no longer "acting chairman" of HMRC.

HMRC have announced a new chairman, Mike Clasper who was once CEO of BAA (a "world class" company, massively in debt, providing "world class" facilities at Heathrow et al).

What, I hear you ask, is to become of Dave Hartnett?

He will become....wait for it....

Cue a roll on the drums!!

A roll on the drums

Acting Chief Executive, whilst HMRC look for someone else to fill the role on a more permanent basis.

Farking hell, is there no limit to which HMRC is prepared to humiliate this man?

Is there any limit to the amount of humiliation that Dave is prepared to endure?

Below is the full text of the announcement, and Q&A article, which appeared on the HMRC Intranet site yesterday.

I draw your attention to this particularly fine piece of prose contained within the Q&A article:

"Did Dave Hartnett apply for either job?

We don't announce applicants, only outcomes. Dave will become the acting CEO as soon as the new chair takes up appointment

There you have it in black and white, if Dave applied for Chairman he failed and is being shunted from pillar to post; always the bridesmaid never the bride.

There are two questions that I must ask:

1 Did someone actually get paid for writing this (the announcement/Q&A article) pile of shite?

2 Did someone in "authority" within HMRC actually approve this pile of shite before it was posted on the intranet?

I assume the answer yes, applies to both questions. In which case it seems proven, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that HMRC senior management are completely clueless. My sympathies are 100% with the people who have to work there, it must be hell on earth.

Oh, how careless of me, I almost forgot to mention this.

Clasper left BAA in 2006 with a pay, pension and share package worth £10 million. Clasper can expect to be paid for his 3 days a week at HMRC in line with a permanent secretary salary scale of between £139,740 and £273,250.


The Prime Minister has announced the appointment of Mike Clasper as chair of HMRC following an open recruitment process.

Mike will oversee the Department's strategic direction, play a lead role in continuing to strengthen HMRC's corporate governance and drive forward engagement with its many stakeholders.

He will take up the post on 1 August, working three days a week, and will be involved in the selection of HMRC's first chief executive - who will take charge of the Department's day-to-day business.

Dave Hartnett will become acting chief executive until the selection process has been completed.

Mike said: "HMRC plays a vital and unique role in the life of our country, its work touching every individual and business. I want to see HMRC in the vanguard of public service delivery, providing a top quality and reliable experience for all of its users.

"That is what those who work in HMRC want and I'm determined that working together we will achieve that goal."

Mike joins HMRC from Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd, where he was an operational managing director. He was formerly chief executive at BAA plc.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: "Appointing someone of Mike's calibre and experience is particularly important at this point in HMRC's development and I am delighted he has agreed to take on the role. Mike will bring the leadership and vision needed to deliver on HMRC’s goals of providing an enhanced service to all of its customers across the UK."

Welcoming Mike to the Department, Dave Hartnett said: "It has been an honour to serve as acting chairman and I look forward to helping build on the progress we've made so far."



What is the role of the chair?
His role will be to strengthen HMRC's corporate governance and to provide oversight to the executive committee and departmental board. In addition, he will play a key role for HMRC by engaging with the Department's many stakeholders.

Key aspects of the role include:
Ensuring that HMRC has a clear strategic direction, which reflects ministers' priorities, is consistent with the resources made available by Parliament and enables the organisation to maximise the revenues properly collected and improve services to its customers.

Together with HMRC's board, to develop the strategy, holding the chief executive and senior executives to account for delivering that strategy and for the organisation's performance.

To oversee and ensure the highest standards of corporate governance, which means there are clear roles and responsibilities for all staff within HMRC and that the right cultures and behaviours exist to help deliver our objectives.

By providing leadership to the board; taking responsibility for the board's composition and development; ensuring good information and analysis for the board; and planning and conducting board meetings effectively.

Along with other members of the board, to hold the chief executive and senior executives to account for the delivery of HMRC's strategy and for the organisation's performance in meeting the targets set by ministers. To play a strong representational role, with ministers, Parliament and key stakeholders, including explaining HMRC's strategic direction to them and to its own staff; and to win their support for, and commitment to, that strategy and the resources required to carry it out.

Appear before select committees to give evidence about the strategic direction of HMRC and governance issues.

The role is part time – how part time?
The post will be 3 days a week.

What level of salary is he getting for this part time post?
His pro-rata salary for 3 days a week is commensurate with that of the most senior civil servants

Why is he only working part time - who is in charge the rest of the time?
The role of chair is to assure delivery of the departmental strategy. It is not to run the business; that is a full time job. The day-to-day running of the Department is the responsibility of the chief executive and the executive team. Chairs of huge and complex multi-nationals in the private sector with this kind of assurance role are frequently part-time.

Why is a part-time chair appropriate for an organisation dealing with "hundreds of billions" of pounds?
Because he will oversee the delivery of the departmental strategy. It is not to run the business; that is a full time job for the CEO. Chairs of huge and complex multi-nationals in the private sector with this kind of assurance role are frequently part-time.

What will he do on the other two days a week?
Mike Clasper is a non executive director of ITV plc, a position he will retain. He is also chairman of the West London Consortium, a body aimed at improving employment and skills services to residents and employers.

What is his CBE for?
Mike was awarded a CBE in 2005 for services to the environment. He led an all-industry taskforce on packaging waste, among other activities.

Will he be retaining his non executive directorship with ITV?

What about the conflict of interest?
As chair of HMRC, Mike is bound by the rules on avoiding conflicts of interest as set out in HMRC guidance. This means he has to take all possible steps to protect himself and the Department from allegations or perceptions of impropriety. He has to give priority to the role of HMRC chair over any past or present associations with any other businesses.

Will we ensure that the new chair and chief executive have never been involved in tax planning/avoidance/evasion?
The successful candidates will be of the highest integrity. There is no question anybody appointed to the posts could bring the Department or their own personal integrity into question.

Will they have to open their financial affairs to scrutiny?
They will be subject to the same checks designed to ensure financial propriety as any other member of HMRC.

Why do we need two people to run the department when we only had one before?
Only one person will be running the department; the chief executive. The chair's role will be to provide strategic leadership and oversight. This is in line with the recommendation in the HMRC Capability Review that we should consider separate roles for a chief executive and chairman.

How can a chair with no experience of HMRC run a tax collecting department?
This is not a question of running tax collection. The role is to ensure HMRC sets the right strategy in line with ministers' priorities and delivers it. Mike has been appointed on the basis of his extensive leadership skills and experience.

Will the chair be directly employed by HMRC/the Civil Service?
The chair will be a civil servant.

Will the chair or chief executive be a commissioner?
This is yet to be decided.

Why were the jobs not advertised and appointed together?
It is sensible that the chair is involved in the selection of the chief executive

When will the CEO appointment be confirmed?
The CEO competition is ongoing and an announcement will be made in due course. The current expectations are that this will be in September, giving the chair time to get to know the organisation before the final selection is made.

Did Dave Hartnett apply for either job?
We don't announce applicants, only outcomes. Dave will become the acting CEO as soon as the new chair takes up appointment.

Tax does have to be taxing.

The New Statesman, Britain's leading political magazine is delighted to announce that HMRC Is Shite has been nominated for a New Media Award in the category of Campaign For Change. The campaign for change award will go to the individual or organisation that has most effectively influenced opinions and behaviour through the use of new media technology. The winner of this award will champion a cause and provide information and tools to instigate change.

The full press release can be downloaded here.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"


  1. More proof of how the cronies are running us down at HMRC

  2. How do you know"Just call me Dave"actually wants the job?
    It's a poison chalce just look at what happened to Grey,would you take it on?
    While this government goes full pelt with the so called modernisation of the Civil Service we're doomed taxpayers and employees alike

  3. What is it with the concept of making major public announcements using first names?

    A departmental announcement to work colleagues - fine.

    A national announcement to 60 million people - totally naff.

    HMRC are not currently and cannot be 'mates' to the 'stakeholders' in the public domain.

    Just how far will this over-familiarisation go before it is recognised by the masses for the BS that it is?


  4. I agree, Ken, it's just not cricket treating Dave Hartnett in such a horrible, uncaring way like this. He is such a pleasant fellow too... and doesn't he bear a striking resemblance to Hugh Grant too!!! I do sympathise with the shabby treatment meted out to Mr Hartnett, but I have it on good authority that humiliation, bullying and cajoling the staff is accepted as quite the norm within HMRC?!!! That is doubtless a major contributory factor as to why Datagate happened (it's not the "first" disaster and it probably won't be the last). It is also one of very many reasons why HMRC is a monumental shambles. With totally demeaned and demoralised staff, plus bullying and incompetent managers no wonder staff morale is through the floor. To quote from the Independent Police Complaints Commission report on the Datagate fiasco: "HMRC procedures for handling sensitive data were "woefully inadequate" and staff adopted a "muddle through" ethos to confidential personal records". In addition, Conservative shadow Chancellor George Osborne said that the (IPCC and Poynter) reports gave a "truly devastating account of incompetence and systemic failure at the heart of this Government (given the context he obviously is referring to HMRC)". Mr Osborne continues by accusing HMRC: "...of wholesale failings in institutional practices and procedures. Staff worked on confidential data without adequate support, training or guidance and there was no coherent strategy for mass data handling". The reports had "comprehensively blown out of the water" the claims made by Chancellor Alistair Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the time of the incident that the breach was the responsibility of a junior official breaking the rules.

  5. Mike Clasper, eh....?

    "a male copulatory structure"

    Appropriate name for a guy who going to ensute taxpayers are well and truly f****d...