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.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Teamwork


In a bizarre display of teamwork, normally reserved for serving the taxpayer or committing fraud for personal gain, seven HMRC staff members have been sacked for collusive racial misconduct wrt tampering with records resulting in minority ethnic claimants being underpaid child benefit.

The gang of seven were sacked on Tuesday from the HMRC contact centre in Belfast, after the results of an internal investigation were finalised. Two others resigned when the inquiry was launched earlier this year.

According to reports they tampered with computer records, which meant that a number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds across the UK were paid less money than they were entitled to.

The investigation began in January, when a customer complained that his/her records had been changed.

It also seems that computer records for other minority ethnic customers across the UK have been changed, meaning 17 people did not receive the benefits that they were entitled to.

All those affected have been reimbursed. It is not clear how much money was underpaid.

Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax at HMRC, is quoted in the Guardian:

"The vast majority of our people are entirely professional and one of the ways we support that professionalism is by taking decisive action against the tiny minority who let us all down by falling far short of those standards."

A couple of questions from this bizarre fraud immediately spring to mind:

1 How were the records altered without an exception report (which I assume is reviewed by senior management) highlighting the changes made, being reviewed and authorised?

2 What other records have been altered, not necessarily for racial bigotry but for personal gain?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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21 comments:

  1. They are two brilliant questions.

    This was a case that was caught on, not by HMRC but by an observant claimant who noticed a change in their records, so Hartnett should meet these people face to face and apologise. If this person had not have caught this, racial bigotry from some within HMRC would have continued for years and expanded.

    There is no way that someone far more senior was unaware of this. If you pick your nose in HMRC Belfast it goes on an excel spreadsheet never mind altering offical claimants records.

    The whole of HMRC Belfast needs to be looked into also, with regards to racial/religious practices, to internal staff, and to the public.

    From what I am aware, the Police have been called in.

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  2. I suppose the fact is that they have been caught so whatever checks are in place have clearly worked even if it has taken a long time to get dealt with (or they got caught by accident/grassed up).

    Blimey, I never thought I would jump to HMRC's defence.

    I would be interested to hear their side of the story though as with the amount of fraud going on they may have decided to do something about it in these cases. And before anyone accuses me of being racist I do not think for one moment only ethnic minorities commit fraud, they are probably a minority on this front as well.

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  3. Bigotry in Belfast? Whoever would have thought it?

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  4. The futures bright, the futures Orange.

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  5. "1 How were the records altered without an exception report (which I assume is reviewed by senior management) highlighting the changes made, being reviewed and authorised?"

    Senior management do not review every record that is altered in HMRC. Records are adjusted by the junior staff the public and their agents deal with. In the same way that every time you buy a loaf of bread at tesco the transaction is not reviewed and authorised by senior management.

    Bearing in mind that HMRCs customer base is larger than that of tesco's your assumption is ridiculous. We need fewer senior civil servants not more.

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  6. Please remember that these changes resulted a reduction of money being paid out so it would be classed as a good thing by HMRC.

    The only reason the investigation came about is because the claimants complained. Funny really, I made a complaint in May regarding HMRC service and have still not had a reply maybe this is a case of positive discrimination.

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  7. Anom re :

    "Senior management do not review every record that is altered in HMRC. Records are adjusted by the junior staff the public and their agents deal with. In the same way that every time you buy a loaf of bread at tesco the transaction is not reviewed and authorised by senior management.

    Bearing in mind that HMRCs customer base is larger than that of tesco's your assumption is ridiculous. "

    This was not one alteration on one record made by one member of staff. Nine members of staff colluded, and went to some effort, to deliberately alter the records of a number of taxpayers (17 we are told).

    I seriously doubt that, given there was (so we are told) no financial gain for this, they put their jobs on the line and went to so much trouble to target a "mere" 17 taxpayers.

    This is, I suspect, but the tip of an iceberg and further investigation will find that other records have been altered.

    Therefore I repeat, why were these alterations not picked by by exception reports?

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  8. Hi Ken

    Anon 23:15 here.

    Perhaps because altering records was their job? Senior managers do not and could not review every single piece of work carried out by every single member of staff.

    Lets say one of the people caught is Mr Smith. Mr Smith is a dishonest person and he has decided he doesn't like people called Brown. As part of his work he accesses a record for someone called Mr Brown. He takes the opportunity to change the record so that it looks like Mr Brown declared £30,000 income. Mr Brown really only declared £20,000. Record changed and no one knows until Mr Brown complains.

    It is possible Ken that they didn't just target 17 people. They probably intended to do this for as long as they could get away with it but got caught. It is possible that after the initial complaint they were under investigation and most of these 17 records were changed while they were being watched - you need evidence to sack and prosecute people.

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  9. Changes made to master file data would appear on exception reports.

    Eexception reports are reviewed, and signed off, by senior managers.

    That is how professional businesses operate, is it not the same for HMRC?

    Comments made on this site, over the past few months/years, by members of HMRC indicate that HMRC managers micro manage everything.

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  10. Agree with Ken.

    It was nine officers. It was 17 claimants. Online records would have been adjusted, end of month statistics would have been requested by at least Senior Officer level. A Senior Officer was able to nail a colleague of mine for claiming a tiny travel claim by toothcombing God knows what realms of records so 9 officers working in organised determined tandem, well now, Tescos wouldnt be in it.
    But the nine were all junior. Ahem.....
    Its like the when discs went missing, a junior guy took the rap.

    The Police are on the case so wait and see.

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  11. Regarding "Anon 23:15 here"

    This is "20 August 2010 11:13"

    I worked in Belfast HMRC for years.
    When the Revenue managers appeared after the merger you couldnt fart without them knowing about it.
    They were almost weirdos in that way.

    They could bust your balls for nano second on a Flexi Sheet, or the travel claim I mentioned but they didnt see this?

    Come on.

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  12. 19 August 2010 23:15 said

    Bearing in mind that HMRCs customer base is larger than that of tesco's your assumption is ridiculous. We need fewer senior civil servants not more.

    I think you will find Tescos customer base is actually a lot bigger than HMRC's. Only HMRC sees tax payers as customers. Therefore the question is not as ridicules as your statement makes out.

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  13. I wish HMRC would stop calling us customers. I have a choice of brand when I buy a mobile phone or loaf of bread. There is no alternative to HMRC. They should stop insulting our intelligence with this tripe.

    As for the officers changing records, well my guess its the tip of a rather large iceberg which goes beyond underpaid child benefit to all sorts of book cooking and underpayments. This is what happens when there is no competition and too much power. I dont know of anyone who has had a good experience with HMRC since its doomed marriage of HMCE and IR in 2005.

    HMRC are turning into the mafia run by cowardly thugs who hide behind their unwilling and demoralised staff.

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  14. I agree with the poster @ 16:44. I find it insulting to be called a customer by HMRC. I pay tax and do not get tax credits, child benefit or anything else.

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  15. @Ken

    "Changes made to master file data would appear on exception reports.

    Eexception [sic] reports are reviewed, and signed off, by senior managers."


    What are you on about? 'Master file data'? This isn't TRON.

    You are posing a leading question. You have no proof that other staff are up to no good you are just pandering to a tabloid mentality.

    I know it's hard to beleive and I am in no way defending how crap HMRC systems are, but there are millions of transactions carried out over several systems every hour. With the best will in the world a person at any grade or even a private company working outside HMRC (however many billions they charged for attempting to do so but end up doing nothing but keeping the money because they have a binding contract with HMRC) would not be able to analyse the data that quickly.

    I would imagine Security exceptions are generated when someone does something drastic like generate money out of thin air and attempts to repay it to themselves.

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  16. Anon @ 19 August 2010 23:15 stop splitting hairs. You knew perfectly well what the person meant.

    As a comparison. Tesco has 440,000 employees whereas HMRC has around 70,000 yet they are charged with looking after the data of every person and company in the UK and then some (lets not forget expats and tax-spongers errr I mean non-doms.

    It was you lot who sat idly by and let the number of civil servants decrease because it gave you a middle-class tabloid orgasm at the time so you really all of you only have yourselves to blame.

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  17. Just think how different things would be if HMRC had 440,000 members of staff.

    It would cost a lot more

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  18. OK. I withdraw my previous 2 statements. Ken is right.

    We should hire enough senior managers on £40,000+ to review every piece of data put into a record. Customer sends in a letter/form changing their banks details? AO who input the details could be redirecting payments to themselves so it must be verified by senior management. Every self assessment Return processed? Double checked by Leslie Strathie personally. Its how professional businesses operate.

    That is why no one ever gets away with committing fraud against their employer? Professional business stops them before it happens. My arse.

    VAT, TAX Credits, Child benefit, Income tax, stamp duty, inheritance tax, Maternity pay, sick pay, NICs, pension contributions, state pension paid out and god knows what else. Every contact from every company, charity or individual to HMRC changes data on their "master file" at some point. And you want senior manages to double check all of it? Can you suggest it to your MP? There might be some promotion opportunities on the horizon.

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  19. Why does it have to be senior managers?

    There is enough lower end managers to do the checks. They spend enough time looking for reasons to threaten people with dismissal so why not get them to spend their time doing something more constructive?

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  20. 21 August 2010 00:11

    Good point.

    I would like to know what grade the 9 who were sacked were and if they were in the same team or teams which were close. From what I've read they were "junior" which I would guess means AO.

    My experience of team structure-set up was usually a couple of AAs, 4/5 AOs, 2 HOs and a Senior Officer. (I know there are bigger teams).

    When you think that a Senior Officer in HMRC could earn nearly £40,000 you would like to think that he/her knew what was going on in their team, which lets be honest probably doesnt involve a huge amount of people. It doesnt mean that as 23:12 states-"every piece of data" has to be checked but 16 Child Benefit cases being incorrectly altered repeatedly by 9 Officers is'nt exactly an isolated case.

    What it really highlights is the total mess this department is in, that managers, whether Senior or less senior failed to see racially-motivated gross misconduct carried out by people they were responsible for managing.
    There is no way do you sack 9 junior Officers and everyone senior above that just didnt know anything about it.
    Im not anti management but HMRC adopted a lack of civility and decency towards many of their staff so its only right that the Police have been called in to investigate this case more thoroughly.

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  21. What worries me now as a 'Customer', is HMRC managed to calculate my tax over three years based in year one on net profit and years two and year three on gross profit... or did they? Maybe I wasn't supposed to notice?
    It wasn't until I spotted it and questioned it... to which I still have no reply... (and awaiting a refund!)
    Just what the fcuk is going on?
    (maybe I was just TOLD it was gross figures when in reality it was net figures... the difference going 'elsewhere'! The only person would know (spot the difference) apparently is me!

    Is it really THAT easy to change records or make such a basic error (twice) in my case? How the hell can anyone use net profit figures in one year and gross profit in two years???? If you are going to cock-it up, cock it up in all three years!!!

    I recall a story of when the UK introduced 'decimalisation' and banks refusuing to accept half penny transactions (yes it was THAT long ago), so one bank worker set up a separate account and transferred all the half pennys the bank didn't accept into that account... I belive he is alive and well with a sun tan in the Caymans. (Probably one of those street stories.. but makes you wonder).

    Now can I have my refund PLEASE!!!!!
    Oh I forgot, I have to ask for it, HMRC haven't calculated it yet, or told me how much they owe me... so how the fcuk do I ask for it back?

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