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.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

HMRC's Oscars - Lawress Hall

Lawress Hall
Further to yesterday's article about HMRC's Oscars, one loyal reader speculated that the venue for the Oscars is probably Lawress Hall (owned by HMRC).

I have done a little digging, and have found a couple of links that give a little more detail about the venue.

The Lincolnshire Police website (seemingly they use the location sometimes as well) has a couple of pictures.

This link takes you to an effusive 5 out of 5 review of the place made by the Programme Director for HMRC's Spring School.

I am happy to post any other details that people may have about the place, eg potential market value of sold, occupancy rates during the year, cost to HMRC of running the place etc.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. I have been to a conference there a LONG time ago ....

    Its very nice but I wont be there to pick an Oscar as I am to far down the foodchain.

  2. Lawress Hall, or should it be Lawless Hall based on past performance of HMRC and its predecessor components?
    Who actually "owns" this property then?
    I thought that all HM C&E/IR property with the exception of the Custom House London had been given, sorry, sold to a Mapeley Offshore Company (see Eyes passim and the excellent special report by the late Paul Foot "The Artful Dodgers" How the Inland Revenue and Customs chiefs joined the tax avoidance bandwagon.
    Still convinced there are no real conspiracy theories then?!

  3. 17:56 could well be right!

    I'm sure Lawress Hall has been sold off & HMRC pay to use the facilities their!

  4. If, as is believed, Lawress Hall is no longer owned by HMRC or the IR as was then who does own it, and where is that company based for tax purposes? i.e. does the company to whom HMRC pays its rent, hotel, conference fees account for its tax in the UK?
    Who is on the board of the company?
    How much does the "customer" or taxpayer pay for this privelidge, and I don't just mean the daily costs, the incidentals such as travel to the wilds of wherever it is and lost time must be huge, again, all funded by the "customer".
    So there you go supersleuths, your first real conspiracy to get to grips with and find answers for.

    First prize, a night at the HMRC Oscars.
    2nd prize, 2 nights.
    3rd prize, a week on a Pacesetter faciltator/practitioner/evangelist course as well as additional set of prizes 1 and 2.

  5. Err. Not the freshest of news. See here, for example.

    A rather aged but nonetheless shocking example of the UK government, by conspiracy or - much more likely in this case I suspect - cockup, allowing (nay facilitating) a scheme designed to produce a tax result different from that intended by Parliament. I know you think nothing should be done to make it harder to enter into such schemes, or to challenge them if they don't work, Ken, but you're wrong, and successive governments have got it wrong by not doing so effectively. The Mapeley PFI (which as well a scheme of the type above - we always seem to get into a rather silly spat if the 'A'-word is mentioned - featured poorly defined quality measures and unfavourable early exit terms for the government, among other things) is just a particularly profound example.

    Stew G

  6. OK, so HMRC don't own Lawress Hall.
    It is assumed that the answer to the remainder of the question by default is:-
    Way over the going rate/lots of money/too much?

  7. 07:07,

    Quite possibly, but these are hard questions to answer. The terms of most contracts can be spun to look pretty bad, but when they're looked at in the round they turn out to look a bit different.

    PFI contracts almost invariably come into that category. Take a facility like Lawress Hall, for example. The fees HMRC pay for use might, at first glance, seem rather low. (Certainly if the £130 a head per The Sun is to be believed it looks pretty good for decent accommodation plus very good conference facilities.)

    However, when you take into account the strong position the government has for negotiating the price paid (they basically guarantee to fill the place every week for ever), and the fact that, by selling it they effectively waived a modest amount of income from the bar (I say "modest" but the place is in the middle of nowhere and what else do people do when they're on residential training courses? And no, it's not subsidised!), it starts to perhaps look less good.

    On the other hand, it's possible that Mapeley paid over the odds for the place on the understanding that the government would pay what would otherwise be over the odds for use - effectively a loan to the government.

    It's difficult, too, to try to compare the cost under the PFI to what the cost would be if the government had held onto it and ran it themselves. Obviously, the PFI arrangement means that a certain amount of public money ends up as profit. This reflects, however, that the private company takes on risk that the government would otherwise bear on its investment: obsolescence, reducing demand, etc. and the fact that, in theory, the private sector operates things more efficiently (a hotly-contested theory, as we all know, but I'm just about willing to accept that it might be true for hotel management, which is very different from running a healthcare system). Of course, whether the associated savings are passed on depends on how well the contact was negotiated on behalf of the government. That in itself is no doubt also a grey area.

    In summary, not an easy question to answer. I suspect it would take an accountant with some knowledge of PFI to do a pretty detailed and carefully-worded freedom of information request. Ken, how well-versed are you on PFI? :)

  8. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    There are far more important issues to be concerned over than Lawless Hall.

    Moving on as they say.

    BTW I met a Pacesetter "practitioner" 7th Dan, black belt today. He/She said they were so pissed with the crap they have to spew out daily that they regret having been "chipped".
    I said watching participants at a daily whiteboard meeting was like watching the inmates from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" waiting for their tablets. The person agreed and said the whole Department was imploding with every fault pushed back down the line at the staff, not only had Pacesetter failed, it was treated as a joke by everyone and there is no belief in its ability to do anything.
    Now this comes from a former Pacesetter "acolyte" who has apparently seen the light at long last.
    Beware HMRCISHITE and getting worse.

  9. The net operating cost (i.e. excluding maintenance etc) of one 24 hour rate at Lawress Hall is £23-33, although it is charged out at a higher rate to other agencies. The Sun's figures are a fantasy. I am sure many posters will be disappointed, but the venue is frequently full and is very cost effective compared to using hotels etc. The biggest issue with Lawress Hall, apart from it's remote location, is that ti is not big enough necessitating the use of external venues (hotels) on a far too regular basis.

    There is plenty at HMRC to complain about but this isn't it.