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, 10 September 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!

Let Them Eat Cake!
The "Board" or, as it likes to call itself, "Excom" of HMRC holds a monthly phone in with their "loyal" staff; whereby staff are "free" to phone in and ask their lords and masters whatever they like.

It is of course a PR exercise, much like a politician kissing a baby during an election campaign, designed to convince the staff that their opinions matter and that they are being listened to.

Anyhoo, a transcript of the phone in is published on the HMRC Intranet.

I understand that during a recent phone in one brave soul had the cajones to phone up and ask what the Chairman earned a year. He then pointed out that the Chairman's 2% increase was in fact more than the annual salary of the lowest paid staff in HMRC.

Excom replied thus:

"We have to tighten our belts and batten down the hatches".

One of the many lessons that I have learned in my years spent working in organisations around the world, is that organisations where management lead by example tend to be well run.

Organisations where management opt for the "do as I say, not as I do" technique of management, fail.

It would seem that Excom need a lesson in humility.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (www.hmrcisshite.com), also available via the domain www.hmrconline.com, is brought to you by www.kenfrost.com "The Living Brand"

17 comments:

  1. You say that a transcript of this teleconference is published on HMRC’s INTRAnet, but not whether it’s on the INTERnet. Also, come to think about it, I’m not sure whether the existence of this phone-in has even officially been made publicly available. As I for one have no intention of breaching the Official Secrets Act, I decided to do a bit of research to see what information was available in the public domain.

    It’s amazing what you can find through Google! Do you know, looking at the stuff I found when I dug around a bit could lead someone less impartial than me to conclude that some of the stuff you wrote in your blog today was both misleading and inconsistent with your earlier posts! Naturally, I myself am reserving judgement about that, but I thought I'd share what I found anyway.

    MISLEADING?

    “the Chairman's 2% increase was in fact more than the annual salary of the lowest paid staff in HMRC”

    OK. When I first saw this, I did some mental arithmetic. I know it’s a nasty habit, but I guess I’m just the geeky type. If I assume that the lowest paid HMRC employees earn £10,000, I thought to myself, and 2% of Dave’s salary is more than that, it must mean that Dave Hartnett's salary is at least ... £500,000. WOW! That seemed awfully high, so I got a calculator and checked that my arithmetic wasn’t letting me down. I’m glad to say all those years at primary school paid off.

    Half a million pounds! Who would’ve thought it? Even though I reminded myself that Ken is an accountant (a Fellow of the institute, no less!), I thought I'd better double check. I found out from HMRC’s annual accounts (1) that Dave got paid between £155k and £160k in 2007/08, including salary and bonuses. A bit lower than this morning's blog had led me to believe, but still pretty decent.

    Digging a bit further, I found (2) that the lowest salary for an HMRC Administrative Assistant in 07/08 was £12,734. That’s just under 8% of what Dave earns. Hmm. Not stunning, I’ll admit, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s best to get numbers and facts right, Ken.

    INCONSISTENT?

    A common theme of this blog has been that HMRC should operate more like the “real world” (e.g. 8 May 2008). Fair enough. Let’s have a look at the “real world”.

    Companies in the FT100 are probably a pretty good place to start. HMRC has around 85,000 employees and a balance sheet value of £514bn (1). For comparison with commercial enterprises, turnover is a bit harder: tax take in excess of £450bn is probably a bit Panglossian, so it’s perhaps better to look at operating expenditure of £15bn instead (1). Either way, figures like this would put a company firmly within the FT100.

    Now, the average FT100 CEO got £755k basic salary in 2007 PLUS an average bonus of £823k (3). This year, it seems, CEOs’ pay has gone up 6.2% among FT350 companies (4). In a year when the share prices of these companies has been slashed, too!

    You’ve been keen to point out the problems you perceive HMRC to have in recruiting and retaining talent. Do you think it would perhaps help if HMRC started paying its people salaries comparable to their private-sector equivalents, Ken? For Dave that would mean, like, a 1000% payrise! HMRC “enter the real world”? You’d have kittens!

    References

    I’ve included some links for you, Ken. I know you don’t always get the time to include references to your sources, but I thought you might find some of this stuff useful when you write future posts.

    (1) http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-dep-acct0708.pdf

    (2) http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/jobs/salaries.htm

    (3) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/chief-executives-pay-rises-by-more-than-30-per-cent-833569.html

    (4) http://www.execdigital.co.uk/CEO-pay-defies-crunch_7549.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and if you quote me as someone bound by the Official Secrets Act saying that: "Dave Hartnett's salary is at least ... £500,000" I shall be taking legal advice. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I smell management!!! "Also, come to think about it, I’m not sure whether the existence of this phone-in has even officially been made publicly available. As I for one have no intention of breaching the Official Secrets Act, I decided to do a bit of research to see what information was available in the public domain" Typical of the threats made daily!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You can smell what you like. I’m not management. There’s no threat there - I'm clicking "Anonymous" just like you! If anything I was pointing out that it’s perfectly possible to make points about HMRC using public domain information and therefore avoiding OSA risks.

    When I get round to it (my “manager” is currently threatening me about housework that’s not been done yet!) I’ll explain my misgivings about this blog. Keep an eye on the comments for the 5 September post – if there’s not another “isn’t this a great site” blog entry by then I’ll post it there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So if you are not management, do you feel as intimated by your manager (housework) as you do at work? ( I may be presumptuous but I assume you are employed by HMRC?)
    Re smelling what I like, I can smell an arse licker at 100 paces

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous arse-licking? You're going to have to talk me through how that one works!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The first comment on this thread has the hallmarks of senior management apparatchik written all over it. I know of no-one in the more humble grades of HMRC who would seek to defend the indefensible in such an outspoken manner as this.

    I would urge all HMRC employed anonymous comment posters to be on your guard that management is watching this blog and that you will be hunted down if you step too far out of line.

    To clear one point up – “ExCom” was a word used by the Inland Revenue to describe the Board. It was never used by HMC&E and is an example of how the Dark Side’s “culture” has swamped all before it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have no doubt that management are aware of this blog, but do you really think they'd announce their presence by posting the comment above?

    ReplyDelete
  9. of course its management.who else as a member of staff at hmrc has that amount of time on there hands?!i would guess at a middle manager of hmrc media relations. i work for hmrc in a call center.official secrets act bollocks. ive seen cases where a compliance investigation was closed only for every single detail of that investigation to be sent to the claiment of the benefit line i work for.bank details, NINOs, adresses, movements, how it was condudcted and by whom, everything.im still amazed its not got to the press.
    ive had my own CAPITA report (which had details of my depression and the medication im on ) left on a printer in full view of all staff. when i requested a written apology i was refused.
    2 days ago i requested my personell file for my union rep to go over to have my EMA for stats overturned as theyre not allowed to do it, and i was told id have to do a SARS..thats bollocks. management in the spirit of openess should release that information when requested.im quoting directly from the departments own guidelines.
    not stats based my arse.
    not management comenting my arse.
    i dont think they could organise a cock up in a brothell

    ReplyDelete
  10. There are very few private sector companies that are as managerially inefficient as HMRC, but there are some. One of them is BAA, a private monopoly whose reputation for consumer service is legendary in the worst possible way. Is there not an irony in the fact that the failed chief executive of that appalling company has now been appointed as the chairman of HMRC?

    ReplyDelete
  11. oh and also on the board of ITV...telephone scam do we hear?ant and dec?
    the one thing i am sick of is it being taken out on me as a contact centre member of staff.
    i want it realised that we have no way of geting information disks of any nature. thats purely management.
    the amount of calls i take when theyr asking' found the discks yet?'
    were not alowed to print of information, let alone store it on disk. were treated like shit by management down to the cutomers calling. all for £15K a year, as a single person with no kids, and entitled to fuck all from the state.
    if HMRC cannot instill respect from its staff, how is it meant to do it for its customers?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Let us not forget that it was Gordon 'Smiler' Brown's decision as the 'then' Chancellor to remove 24,000 staff at the Inland Revenue, the consequence of which is that it is now hopelessly ill-equipped to handle the growing complexity of the tax system and tax credits. There has been a breakdown in face-to-face relationships, particularly with small businesses, and the institution is hopelessly understaffed to cope with the complexities of tax avoidance and evasion, which are happening on a large scale in the City and among the rich of this country.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I would urge all HMRC employed anonymous comment posters to be on your guard that management is watching this blog and that you will be hunted down if you step too far out of line."

    If they do the 'hunting down' as well as they do everything else, no-one has anything to fear!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. If they do the 'hunting down' as well as they do everything else, no-one has anything to fear!!

    My fear is that the only thing they are actually good at is gunning for staff. They're aren't effective at much else.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "ive had my own CAPITA report (which had details of my depression and the medication im on ) left on a printer in full view of all staff. when i requested a written apology i was refused"

    Can I respectfully suggest that you report that immediately as a security incident?

    S&BC (Security and Business Continuity) have an electronic security incident form online which you can fill in. If your manager has left that particular item on a printer in full view of other people, not only have they failed to observe the appropriate Departmental security procedures, but they have potentially committed a breach of the Data Protection Act, and also acted in a manner inappropriate with the Developmental Objective in all manager's PDEs which states that they must ensure security protocols are followed.

    Whether S&BC will take the matter any further, I don't know. It will, however, get the incident officially on the record.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "the Chairman's 2% increase..."

    Does that include pension benefits too? Paul Gray did pretty well too when you factor in the pension pot.

    ReplyDelete