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, 7 July 2010

Money Well Spent II

IT Matters
Aside from paying its top people a "decent" salary (nothing wrong with that, if they actually deliver a decent service), HMRC are not averse to paying outsiders a "decent" wad when it comes to website design and development.

Rory Cellan-Jones writes:

"What would it cost to create and run a government website for three years?

How does £105m sound?

After we covered a couple of stories about government spending on websites and iPhone apps someone got in touch to suggest we take a look at one particular site, businesslink.gov.uk.

The correspondent said this site, run by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), had cost £35m a year to build and operate for three years and suggested that it had been poor value, delivered an unsatisfactory service to users and proved technically shaky.

I could not quite believe that figure - it sounds an awful lot of money for one site
but it turns out to be true. Businesslink.gov.uk was among the sites singled out last week by the Cabinet Office as very expensive in terms of cost per visit.

When I went to the lengthy document in which the Central Office of Information (COI) examined central government websites, I found that £35m staring out from a table.

Only the NHS Choices site, at £21m, comes anywhere close. But it has around six million unique users a month, whereas the Business Link site, which offers all kinds of advice to businesses, has just over a million.

The site is the work of a major outsourcing company called Serco, which has sub-contracted the technology to a little business called BT. So how do the costs break down?

The COI report has some detail - £6.2m on strategy and planning, £4.4m on design and build, £4.7m on hosting and infrastructure, £15.3m on content provision and £4.5m on testing and evaluation. What I can't work out is why that cost is repeated for three years.
"

Needless to say HMRC and Serco think that it is good value:

"HMRC and its supplier Serco also put up a robust defence. HMRC said the businesslink.gov.uk site delivered benefits of over £800m a year to companies - a huge return on the £35m invested. I always wonder how those kind of figures are worked out, in the public or private sector.

Serco also cites that £800m figure and goes on to say that it has continually looked for efficiency savings since winning the contract in 2005, and these have amounted to £44m so far.
"

So that's alright then!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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17 comments:

  1. I have not been able to log back into the self assessment system since the beginning of May 2010. The problem has been known about since February 2010 and even today is still not fixed.

    So I guess it is back to a paper return next year for me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why is HMRC now funding Business Link or even just its website? It was set up by the DTI to help small business and was supposed to raise its own funding.

    I also notice you missed this bit from text you quoted
    "To be fair, the creation of this website was driven by the small business community, which thought that the old Business Link network of offices across the country was a waste of money.

    Firms told the government they wanted this service delivered online, and the Federation of Small Business told me its members were pretty happy with the results, though they were not aware of the costs of the site."

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  3. Had a quick look at the website.
    105 million? It looks like a load of shite.

    I could have designed a better website using iWEB.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Did I not hear on the news that Business Link is being scrapped by the new governement?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmm, so businesses decided the government should create a website that none of them would use and the labour government gave in and said they could have it.

    This is the fault of HMRC....... how?


    It's no surprise that CBI has some involvement in Businesslink as they cry like babies whenever govt interferes in business by hmm... lets see... actually setting regulations so businesses behave themselves and don't bankrupt the country in the process.

    Then when they are given handouts by the government such as things that will actually they scream for more but then complain it's costing them too much as taxpayers.

    CBI - introspective thinking? Surely not. They are the real govt spongers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. With all the crap taking place within HMRC, it makes me laugh whenever I see a poster defending them.

    How about getting the HMRC website working so people can use it, close all the call centers (lets face it only a minority of callers will notice any difference in the service), get rid of all the call center staff. There you go, money savd and no more moaning about bullying.

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  7. Anonymous said...

    With all the crap taking place within HMRC, it makes me laugh whenever I see a poster defending them.


    Err... Not defending HMRC because in reality business link has nothing to do with HMRC just that the money is taken out of its budget for some reason, Just taking a swipe at all the medium-large businesses that behave like spoilt children all the time and will probably increase their whining under this government.

    ReplyDelete
  8. close all the call centers (lets face it only a minority of callers will notice any difference in the service), get rid of all the call center staff. There you go, money savd and no more moaning about bullying.

    Ok then - it seems like you want to take on directly - the people who know their area of expertise inside out and will probably tie you up in knots because they've heard every single pitiful excuse 1,000 times before from different taxpayers and their agents and are able to tell whether the excuse is genuine and therefore make a decision on the spot.

    I mean that's how HMRC worked under the last T**y government apparently.

    I think you'll find that under this model of HMRC working, there will be no offer of cake therefore no chance of consumption of said cake.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 9 July 2010 22:12 Posted.

    Ok then - it seems like you want to take on directly - the people who know their area of expertise inside out and will probably tie you up in knots because they've heard every single pitiful excuse 1,000 times before from different taxpayers and their agents and are able to tell whether the excuse is genuine and therefore make a decision on the spot.

    Ok, so lets look at this then.

    I have done my tax returns online for the last few years and had no reason to actually talk to anyone within HMRC. This year there was a problem with the online system and it resulted in me having to call in. I am now waiting for a response to my formal written complaint regarding the member of staff who dealt with my call who either did not know what they where doing or simply lied to me. I am sure you hear lots of excuses so I look forward to hearing HMRC's excuse regarding this. That is assuming anyone has the decency to reply.

    ReplyDelete
  10. the people who know their area of expertise inside out and will probably tie you up in knots

    Interesting point of view, these will be the people who take a chance and ignore the CAG then?

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Anonymous said...

    With all the crap taking place within HMRC, it makes me laugh whenever I see a poster defending them...."

    It never ceases to make me laugh, the number of "armchair critics" of HMRC that comment on here about "how to make HMRC more efficient" ...like they would have you believe they actually know what they're talking about!!! Fact is they know fark all about it. If it was so damned easy to sort out the crap, don't ya think HMRC would have done something about it long ago?!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. To the 12 July 2010 00:32 Poster.

    Once again I get to have a laugh about HMRC people defending HMRC.

    You see I do know what is going on within HMRC as do most other people who have relatives who work within it.

    So I thank you for brightening up my Monday morning and leaving me the warm feeling that I can return to my armchair this evening while you spend the day thinking up ways to defend a failed organisation like HMRC.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear anon @ 12 July 2010 09:23

    Steady on - I think you will find that the poster @ 12 July 2010 00:32 said this with his tongue very firmly in his cheek....

    ReplyDelete
  14. To poster at 12 July 2010 16:21. I posted @ 09:23 and I can assure you I do not take any posts on here defending HMRC too serious.

    I work on the assumption that the people on here who defend HMRC are probably the same people doing all the bullying within the call centers. And yes, I do know what it is like working for HMRC, I am married to a help line operator who works in a call center.

    ReplyDelete
  15. HMRC is a failed organ for sure.

    If anyone has any bright ideas on how to fix the mess, let's hear them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Is there really a mess to sort out?

    HMRC is charged with collecting taxes. Most people calling the call centers are probably either trying to get more tax credits out of the system or reduce their tax bill. Either way it is in HMRC's interest that neither type of call get through. So the question is "Is there a problem? or is HMRC working as planned?"

    ReplyDelete
  17. HMRC is a failed organ for sure.

    If anyone has any bright ideas on how to fix them


    Hmm, it could stop importing people who have failed dismally in both the public and private sector to head the department since the first staff cull back in 2005.

    Lets see the roll-call.

    David Varney (April 2005 to August 2006) He was previously Director of a Company called MMO2, which in 2003 made a loss of 10.2 billion pounds under his stewardship. Started the ball rolling for the staff cuts. The plan was for 12,500 staff to go by 2010, HMRC eventually managed a reduction of 35,000 staff by 2009. However because HMRC is not a local factory, the media did not take a blind bit of notice of this 1/3 reduction in staff.

    Paul 'whatsisname' Gray (September 2006 to February 2007). Career civil servant who gave too much power to middle management who knew nothing about anything and were not punished when they made terrible irrevocable decisions such as asking junior staff to burn raw data on to CD's to send via the untrusted TNT system and tried to hide behind provisions of the FOA to stop themselves from being prosecuted. Resigned after realising his mistake.

    Dave Hartnett (acting chairman for the rest of 2007 to 2008) To be honest Dave didn't cause too much havoc, but then he was replaced by

    Mike Clasper (Current Non executive director) to this day I've not actually figured out what he does for his near £260,000 (pro rata) salary. Nothing is ever heard from him, either on the intranet or in public. However read his HMRC bio here and make your own mind up. All I can work out is that he used to work for an investment group. Which would explain the diminishing of anti-avoidance work being carried out at present. (What HMRC says to the press and what HMRC does in implementation are two different things. See Rich Murphy's March 2010 documents re this WARNING contains anti-anti-avoidance measures for all you middle class selfish da1ly-rag reading bigots out there)


    Which brings me to the last and definitely very least:

    Leslie Strathie oversaw the cull of the DWP, just before the greatest unemployment record in the history of the UK. Seems to have cottoned on to the fact that most HMRC staff are completely fed up with the way they are treated, but is willing to do sweet FA about it and simply barks measures from the government of the day and encourages the rest of her board to do so.

    Has welcomed cuts in staff and office despite the increasing backlog and complaints. Probably waiting for the day when HMRC is down to 2 staff and is told to cut staff numbers by 40% by the CON-DEM govt so she can cut Mike Claspers head and some of his torso off.

    ReplyDelete