My thanks to a loyal reader who sent me a hand typed copy of the latest HMRC intranet posting. This one covers the recent evidence given by HMRC senior staff to the Treasury Select Committee.
Here it is as sent to me, if there are minor errors/omissions please let me know and I will correct them:
"HMRC's senior team have given evidence covering the whole range of HMRC's work to a committee of MP's
Contact centre performance, morale and engagement, PAYE and tax settlements with big business all featured in the Treasury Select Committee meeting yesterday afternoon.
Chief executive Lesley Straithie, non-executive chairman Mike Clasper, permanent secretary for tax Dave Hartnett and chief finance officer Simon Bowles all took part in the three-hour hearing.
They agreed with the committee that HMRC has to do a better on both customer service, especially call waiting times, and staff engagement.
Lesley told the committee: "I want to make a plug for our staff here - the great thing we have to build on in HMRC is their pride and passion in their work and their determination to provide good service for their customers".
She said the Department needed to "paint a picture of hope" - especially around skills and career development, something which had come out strongly in discussions with the trade unions.
She added: "I really do believe that people need to understand just how committed and passionate our people are in their work - even if they think HMRC hasn't always helped them do it".
When it came to customer service, the team told the committee that it was unlikely to improve radically until PAYE had been stabilised.
The problems experienced with PAYE and the knock-on effects on HMRC's call centres and customer service were, they stressed, the result of working across eight years in the current year, following the introduction of the National Insurance and PAYE Service (NPS)
[...the great thing we have to build on in HMRC is [our staff's] pride and passion in the work... Lelsey Strathie]
The backlog of open cases will be cleared by the end of 2012 and the Department will be in a "much stronger position" by 2013 and "stronger again" in 2014.
Meanwhile, accuracy for the current annual coding cycle is at 97 percent - up from 80 per cent last year. However, they cautioned there would inevitably be "ups and downs" despite the steady improvement.
The work being done to manage demand in contact centres is a key part of this - especially encouraging people to use online services instead of making unnecessary calls.
Lesley added: "The satisfaction level when you speak to our staff is very high. People speak very highly of contact centre agents when they get to speak to them."
While the aim is to provide a high-quality telephone service for those who want it, the future will involve more outreach work, home visits to the elderly and more on the internet.
The team also told the committee about the changes taking place within the Department, including the work to improve leadership and revealed they will cut the number of layers from 13 to either seven or eight.
Discussion also focused on the £917m of reinvestment to focus on avoidance, evasion and criminal attack, which will bring in an extra £7bn by 2015. When this target is met, they argued, there would be a case for going back to the Treasury with business cases to ask for further investment.
Despite the challenges the Department has faced, they stressed the compliance yield had risen significantly - by more than £5bn in four years.
Settlements with big business were also discussed, especially the Vodafone case and Dave Hartnett gave a forensic analysis showing why the much-quoted £6bn liability was an "absurd figure which no serious or reputable tax specialist would support".
A full transcript of the meeting, which covered many other topics, will be published on the HMRC intranet as soon as it is available."
The HMRC Intranet article appears to have missed some "nuances", as per media reports elsewhere, Mike Clasper told the Treasury select committee that he was not happy about the level of service that HMRC had been providing.
Clasper is quoted by Accountancy Age:
"I think there will be a period of steady improvement.
We're not going to be in a great place until 2013 and we'll be stronger again in 2014."
He admitted that employees were disenchanted with the work itself and that the civil service "does not like change or manage change well" and HMRC "has not given people that need to make change the tools they need".
Dame Leslie Strathie apologised to customers (taxpayers) for poor service.
Well then, over to HMRC staff now for their thoughts and comments.
Tax does have to be taxing.
UK EXPATS: Reduce tax on UK Pensions
HMRC QROPS provider. Unlock your UK pension and access a 25% lump sum today.
Quote ID code "ABC" when contacting a QROPS specialist.
Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations
What is TAXWISE?
TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.
To find out more, please use this link Taxwise
Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.
Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies