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, 26 May 2010

Meltdown II


Yesterday's article about the meltdown going on at HMRC seems to have stirred up a few loyal readers, as there have been a number of "heated" comments posted.

One comment that did catch my eye, in particular, was this one from an anonymous (I assume) member of HMRC.

"Muppets? If the people employed by private companies ie accnt asd book keepers knew what they were doing the "Customer Service" contact centres wouldnt be so inundated with other calls and we could deal with this mess ... caused by our PRIVATE SECTOR IT supplier. But people on here would rather blame the civil servants who have a very limited right to complain back due to impartiality etc."

Disregarding the blame being laid at the door of the taxpayer for not knowing how the tax system works, the very interesting/relevant point being raised is that the blame should be laid at the door of the IT supplier (I will also disregard the anti private sector invective, given that if there were no private sector there would be no taxes to support the public sector).

HMRC have publicly stated that the problem has occurred because the old systems contained several data sets that were not compatible when merged in the new system, and that this is a one off problem that will work its way through.

That does not sound like it to be the IT supplier's fault, but more of a case of lack of testing (which I would assume was the responsibility of HMRC who should have been driving the systems upgrade process)?

However, on the assumption that it is the IT supplier's fault my question is this:

What are HMRC going to do about it?

I assume that the contract with the particular IT supplier has penalty clauses for such issues, on this basis will HMRC be making a claim for restitution?

Were the contract not to have such a clause, then one could argue that HMRC did not negotiate a very good deal on behalf of the taxpayer.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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14 comments:

  1. The whole problem is HMRC do not like to admit they are wrong as a Call Centre advisor I can tell you that when the coding problem was discovered we as advisors were told the system was working to order and not to tell taxpayers their codes were wrong. When it was obviously wrong in the case of people receving BR or D0 codes we were told to re-issue. However with the usual knee jerk reaction from HMRC management codes were withheld/not issued and although on our systems it showed code issued the correct codes did not go out and conseqently on 5th April the only codes employers had were the incorrect codes. So HMRC failed to issue correct codes for the start of tax year as far as the management were concerned errors were made however taxpayers should learn to accept it and any consequences of HMRC inefficiencies.

    From what has been said before on this site and other press releases, it is obvious that a full system test was not carried out and therefore the blame for the whole problem rests with HMRC.

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  2. Were the contract not to have such a clause, then one could argue that HMRC did not negotiate a very good deal on behalf of the taxpayer.

    I would have thought HMRC would simply dictate the terms!!!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Is this problem related to the 'missing data' in tax credit cases ?

    We were told some years ago that we were on the system 2 or 3 times with different data in each set. I'm guessing that the helpdesk agent added the info we gave them to the first set they came to.

    Now we're told there's only one set, but it's woefully incomplete, with missing data, calls and calls listed with no other info.
    A fact that HMRC are now using to say we never gave them the info in the first place !

    I'd have liked to think that all the data sets would have been merged, but it appears that the extra sets may just have been deleted...

    Can anyone (anonymously) comment ?

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  5. The 'PAYE service' introduced in July 2009 is basically asking taxes staff to become system testers and implement one of any number of 'workarounds' depending on whatever the software problem is (which isn't always abundantly clear, seeing as one taxpayer could have a number of workarounds applied depending on their circumstances).

    The idea that data has been inserted incorrectly by HMRC staff should not stick. Legislation was introduced in 2003 that progressively encouraged employers to file P14/P11d/P45/P6 etc data online, starting with large employers and each year the maximum number of employees who could 'get away' with not filing online has decreased,

    The last year that any company with less than 50 employees could 'get away' without filing online was 2009/10.

    This means that either a large number of employers/pension providers operating PAYE are providing incorrect data or the PAYE service is not interpreting the data correctly when it comes in and/or, in the case of previous years, is using some of the data provided by COP - the previous taxpayer data system until July 2009 around which PAYE debts were assessed, settled or repaid.

    Being a realist I imagine it's a mixture of all of the above but the new system doesn't allow us to rectify mistakes imported from COP.

    Unfortunately the new PAYE system is not showing the assessments that were produced in COP. It shows a repayment or assessment figure - not how the assessment was calculated. Attempts have been made by members of staff to reproduce assessments from COP but have found the supporting documents have been thrown out,

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  6. I assume that the contract with the particular IT supplier has penalty clauses for such issues, on this basis will HMRC be making a claim for restitution?

    A bit like they did with EDS? How many years of IT cock ups before HMRC took action? Then only by arranging a deal where the compensation was dependent on EDS getting more government contracts. And EDS where paid to give it up and Cap Gemini were paid to take it over.

    Two problems with government departments buying from private companies- 1) companies pay for the best lawyers they can afford, the civil service pays for the cheapest. 2) The senior civil servants striking the deals get taken out for nice lunches/holidays and then pick the "best" company to provide the service.
    Thats why they get away with charging so much for so little. Government contracts are seen as a licence to print money by many of these companies.

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  7. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/10174577.stm

    O'Dear, O'Dear, O'Dear.

    Now I wonder who will be prosectuted for breaking the data protection act.

    I suppose this is down to the people getting tax credits!!!

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  8. Just great.

    And I was told by someone claiming to be a manager some time ago that the system was 'perfect' !

    (and no, I didn't believe him at the time)

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  9. We should oust the entire HMRC board and that ****wit senior civil servant Gus O'Donnell. He is the architect in all of this.

    The way the board is acting at the moment reminds me of the main antagonist 1982 film 'Tron'.

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  10. However, on the assumption that it is the IT supplier's fault my question is this:

    What are HMRC going to do about it?


    Short answer: Nothing.

    For the first few months of the PAYE service being in operation, it was an open secret that the HMRC supposed meritocracy of senior civil servants had given a design to the IT developers and so of course they only worked to that.

    Since then for some reason they have decided that it's easier for tens of thousands of staff to use IT workarounds rather than fix the problem because then A. They can blame all mistakes on the lower grade staff for not being able to follow the complex instructions that are usually incomplete and arrive at a dead end or are just a quick fix which will in the long term make the problem worse, and B. The cost of employing O/AO/AA grades to do all these workarounds doesn't appear on their end of year financial report - even though the O/AO/AA grades would much rather be employed doing their actual job that they had before July 2009 - which was gathering information in order to allow or disallow assessments and repayments of tax and computing those assessments/repayments.

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  11. Ken Frost - I hope you are actually listening to the comments from those inside HMRC and will be offering them up to your elected representative.

    Those who work for HMRC on the front line are unable to change things from the inside otherwise they face dismissal.

    If you are not prepared to send all the information that countless HMRC staff have given you over the past few months about the corruption of our senior management, then it's rather fruitless and means that your site is basically serving the same function as a tabloid newspaper.

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  12. 27 May 2010 21:16

    I have personally attempted to contact Gus O'Donnell, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and various other MP's regarding the working conditions of HMRC staff. I do not work for HMRC but my partner does so I see and fully understand the problems the staff face. To return to my attempts to contact the above, I have received no replies to my emails or telephone calls but will be approaching my local mp directly soon.

    I am limited to what I can publish at this point due to the management style of HMRC and the effect it has on my partner. Once my partner has left (which will be soon) I intend to publish a lot of details of the treatment they have received over the years and the names of the people who have carried it out. Some of the details are relevant to the way the public has been dealt with as a result of the system problems within HMRC.

    I do however have to disagree with you regarding you and your colleague’s ability to change things from within. Your unions should be supporting members of staff who have information regarding the internal failings of HMRC to get that information to the relevant people who can take action on it. I am not sure who these people are but I have talked to officials of PCS and they assure me they have contact with members of various political parties. So maybe you need to push the unions more on this.

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  13. Anom

    re:

    "Ken Frost - I hope you are actually listening to the comments from those inside HMRC and will be offering them up to your elected representative.

    Those who work for HMRC on the front line are unable to change things from the inside otherwise they face dismissal.

    If you are not prepared to send all the information that countless HMRC staff have given you over the past few months about the corruption of our senior management, then it's rather fruitless and means that your site is basically serving the same function as a tabloid newspaper. "

    I regularly send leading politicians, and indeed news organs, links and extracts of articles and comments on this site.

    Sometimes the media refer to them. However, the politicians never have replied.

    The way to make the politicians respond, and actually do something, is to shine a bright light into all the dark corners and humiliate them into action.

    Comments from staff such as "management are crap" may well be true, but without facts and specific details to back up that claim the politicians will sit back and do nothing.

    To some extent they know that they have HMRC staff over a barrel, because if you come forward publicly you will lose your job.

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  14. Those of us in HMRC who believe in excellent public service are caught in dilemna as if we do publicise the failings of management we will be "pursued relentlessly" - which incidentally is the phrase they use in the Charter about those taxpayers who deliberately bend the rules -and disciplined severely. The problem is that power corrupts, and with a few exceptions, senior managers are more concerned about their own careers and how they will look in the eyes of their masters than provding excellent public services -which is the aim of most of those of us at the front line - but we are frustrated bythe obstacles put in our way by management. I have raised many issues on the internal Intranet Hotseat and the usual response is a wishy washy vague and convoluted reply along the lines of "yes we do have some problems and changes need time to bed in and there is a project team/review/evaluation that will look at this in a while" - in other words we are going to do nothing!
    I am just glad that I am at the end of my time in the Dept and do not envy my younger colleagues !

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