HMRC Derby (re yesterday's article) is not alone in facing government and senior HMRC management plans for restructuring.
There are also plans for many other offices to be axed, eg 11 Revenue and Customs offices employing 171 staff across north and north-east Scotland.
Mary Hay, who is the HMRC director responsible for the programme, is quoted in The Press and Journal:
"By consolidating work in fewer locations we will be able to work more efficiently and so improve customer service as well as providing better value for money."
The consultation paper said that "where feasible" staff will be offered relocation, but overall 600 out of 1,800 jobs across Scotland will be lost.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, the main union involved, has a view that does not chime with HMRC senior management claiming that it was "a crude drive to slash jobs and cut costs which will leave HMRC unable to deliver quality public services.
Access to tax advice in communities across the UK will be damaged by these proposals hitting businesses and the public, in rural towns and villages, as well as taking quality jobs out of local communities."
The hit list of offices includes Elgin, Longamn House, Invereness, Grangemouth Customs House, Wick, Buckie, Falkirk, Stirling, Dunoon, Perth and Oban.
An HMRC spokeswoman said:
"Many of our customers now prefer to deal with us by telephone or the internet at a time of their choosing."
That may not be entirely true given the meltdown of the online filing system this year at a critical moment, and the less than high quality phone service provided by HMRC.
The proposals have not gone down well with the politicians in Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond said that the cuts amounted to "centralisation totally out of control".
Argyll and Bute Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid said:
"It is an outrage that the three tax offices in my constituency are all to close and local people will have to travel a hundred miles or so to Glasgow or Inverness for face-to-face advice."
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Lib Dem MP John Thurso said he was "steaming with rage at the deceitful and underhand way in which HMRC have acted".
It seems that HMRC senior management and the government have something of a credibility problem wrt their restructuring plans. They claim that they will improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, neither the staff nor the "customers" (taxpayers to you and I) believe them.
Why do people not believe HMRC senior management?
- Could it be that the senior HMRC management is simply not up to the job of managing the hotch potch that HMRC has become, since it was created from Customs and the Revenue?
- Could it be that the piles of unopened post, going back months, sitting in HMRC offices across the country indicates that there are no efficiency savings and that HMRC is in meltdown?
- Could it be that the datagate fiasco is merely the tip of the iceberg of an organisation on the brink of collapse?
- Could it be that HMRC senior management are simply not good at their jobs?
- Could it be that the plummeting morale within HMRC indicates that senior management do not know or understand how to manage change of this nature?
The government claims that it wants to improve the efficiency, and reduce the costs of HMRC. To my view this is not the way to go about it.
The most effective means of improving efficiency and reducing costs would be for a massive simplification of the tax system.
Unfortunately, as long as Brown is PM this will never happen; Brown does not do "simple".
Tax does have to be taxing.
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