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.

Monday, 6 June 2011

HMRC's Oscars


I am gemused to read that HMRC has decided to treat its long suffering staff to an evening out on 29th September.

The Sun reports that HMRC will be holding an in house awards night and sleepover for 100 of its top performers at a country retreat in Lincolnshire (authorised by Lesley Strathie no less), at a cost of £13K.

HMRC are of the view that staff have "gone the extra mile for the taxpayer", as such 8 "gongs" (including "Customer Service") will be awarded.

I don't question that rewarding staff for good performance is a good thing. However, I am not entirely convinced that an "Oscar" night will really be that meaningful to the staff, nor do I think that the political ramifications of taxpayers funding this event (given the performance and "brand reputation" of HMRC) have been entirely thought through.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. "100 of its top performers"

    Imagine the arse lickin that went on to get on this list.
    The Pacesetter creeps and their line managers.

    Most people I knew who had something to contribute to Customs left years ago.

  2. Might pop along myself and crash the party seeing as I am chipping in.

  3. PCS might be there too :)

  4. Anybody local who has not been able to get through on the phone should attend as well.

  5. They only do this because its cheaper than paying bonuses.

    And can you show link to the story. I can't find it.

  6. sorry. ignore my last comment.

  7. Yes, but they won't BE 'staff', will they? The lowest grade will probably be SO. After all no AA, AO, O, or HO is actually allowed to think for themselves, so how could they excel at anything?

    Anyway - given the dismal performance over the merged years, this is a bloody insult.

  8. I guess this just confirms the fact that what the public's definition of "Service" does not match the HMRC definition.

  9. Should be named the SCIE awards -

    Sycophantic Colonic Irrigation Engineer.

  10. Has this information been circulated to all mosques in the country?

  11. Everybody AO band & below should be awarded the Victoria Cross for putting up with & surviving the shite they are bombarded with everyday.
    All ass lickers O band & above should be shot at dawn.
    Well you can always dream...

  12. Top performers, OSCARS, tax payers money.
    Give them equity cards next.
    It'll be like a cross between One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest, The Muppet Show and The Titanic all rolled into one...
    Hey Gonzo, mind the deckchairs when you give out the tablets, eh!
    Whoever came up with this idea at this moment in time with thousands of staff worried about redundancy and the "customer's" ondering WTF they pay their taxes for deserves an Oscar! You couldn't dream it up in this current environment and why not use their own centre, or perhaps they are, but it still costs one way or another.
    Wonder if alcohol will be provided f.o.c.? That would be a definate no-no in the current climate.
    Wonder if there is a grain of common sense available for someone to say whoa, stop!?

  13. This would be at Lawress Hall presumeably, which is owned by HMRC (and previous to that, Inland Revenue).

    It's a training centre with its own accomodation and I think has a subsidised bar.

    I'm surprised it's been kept open to be honest as no one receives any training any more so it's essentially just a posh retreat for anyone who is a budget holder to send their staff on a jolly.

  14. How did they find 100 top performers in the Glorious 103rd?
    Some suggestions:-

    1st in the wipe the whiteboard race

    Champion tug-o-war team, a close run event between Excom and an invitation team from UKBA, Excom lost and that was just over who did and didn't go (escape?)

    Runner-up in the so far up your managers arse long jump you can't see daylight

    Anyone in the top three of the hop, skip and jump, past masters only included Paul Gray, Richard Broadbent and the guy that made a few bob out of a Lazarous like approach to heading IT, however this was won by the Board of....Vowdafoone, a Tyneside mobile comms company, a stewards enquiry still pending on this one!

    The high jump, mmm, no competitors turned up for this event although a large crowd of disgruntled "customers" was left upset at failure to see anyone compete after so much training?

    Following a pretty good showing on BBC's Question Time, Paul Serwotka PCS General Secretary was offered the great honour of being the in-field judge for the discus, hammer and javelin being provided with a pair of welders goggles to shield his eyes from the sunshine emanating from the collective posteriors of Excom and Co, however due to cuts there were no discus, hammers or javelins left to go around and Paul lived to fight another day, he is due to receive a a trophy of some sort but there's no money left!

    The marathon was run and despite all the efforts of the Pacesetters to keep it between the lines, on time, within budget and even in the right country, no-one finished the bloody race.

    In the swimming pool eevents HMRC had sunk without trace and even Hartnett performing a near perfect dive when exiting yet another restaurant, failed to impress the judges.

    Don't mention the equestrian events, OK then.

    Medal tally - Nil, all competitors failed the dope test as they couldn't even spell their names.

    LOL :)

  15. Who does Strathie think she is using customer's - er, I mean taxpayer's money on this junket? I know that it's common enough for private companies to hold these events but that's the difference - PRIVATE companies are not being funded by the taxpayer. I suppose calling HMRC a business (IT'S NOT A BLOODY BUSINESS) gives the green light to all kinds of unethical behaviour.

  16. You could call it a monkey business but thats an insult to primates

  17. And the Oscar for best female actress goes to....rustle of envelope... LGD for her role in "the administration and effectiveness of HMRC" played before a discerning audience of select M.P.s, this combination comedy/tragedy/horror/cartoon/documentary/long-running saga of current affairs (take your pick), took the biscuit at the awards and earned a standing ovation from the discerning glitterati invited to attend this Pacesetter event, none of whom had a clue what this weeks vision and values were about as their blackberries had all been repossessed due to non-payment of the mobile phone contract, yes HMRC has one of those as well!

  18. Pretty sure HMRC's company mobile contract is with Vodafone as well, or at least it used to be.

    They must be laughing all the way to Barclays Bank (not before picking up some fine food from Fortnums on the way).

  19. "PRIVATE companies are not being funded by the taxpayer".

    Although I agree with your overall argument, this particular non-sequitur and its variants have always irritated me as logically all companies are funded by taxpayers. I can see why BBC employees get irritated by the "I pay your wages" argument as well.

    If you disagree with this, there is always Dubai.

  20. So that's why we have no pay rise then!

  21. I guess the rules on meals and drinks being claimed as a business expense have changed.

    Whats good for the goose!!!!!!

  22. Anonymous 7 June 2011 07:57

    Except, of course, the taxpayer has a choice of whether or not he patronises a private company. With HMRC there is no such choice!

  23. Confused by your comment7 June 2011 at 12:19

    @7 June 2011 07:57 said:
    as logically all companies are funded by taxpayers

    Please explain this!

  24. "7 June 2011 11:31" et al.

    There is a choice - leave the country. Go to the UAE or another non tax paying country.

  25. @7 June 2011 12:19

    All companies are funded by trade between individuals, some of which are taxpayers. Therefore all companies are funded by taxpayers.

  26. 15:15 @ 15:19 - How often do you hear the phrase "you are part of the problem"?

  27. @7 June 2011 15:25

    How often do you hear "You are a strawman argument....."?

  28. @15:39, Never.

  29. WTF is happening on this blog?

    I am getting an impression that a lot of people don't believe HMRCISHITE or that there is anything wrong within the (dis) organisation!

    Find out why they are clinging on to Pacesetter if you want to dig deep and look at a good conspiracy theory.
    Or if you want a reasonable mathematical challenge then assess the real tax gap.
    Its been said before, this lot would come last in a one horse race.
    Most of the blame stays with the Brown/Stalinist approach towards the merger and its aftermath. What a legacy?

  30. Even more confused but also amused...7 June 2011 at 18:32

    7 June 2011 15:19 said:

    All companies are funded by trade between individuals, some of which are taxpayers. Therefore all companies are funded by taxpayers.

    What about a business that purely exports?
    (So no sales in the UK. Only purchases)
    How is that company funded by taxpayers?

  31. @18:32

    That is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

  32. @ 18:32
    Basic lesson then?
    VAT on purchases = input tax, recoverable as such if usual rules apply including used in the course of a taxable supply.
    VAT on exports = zero rated, to Third World, or treated as zero rated sales to EU.
    This would usually result in a VAT repayment for the company selling the goods.
    So, the company claims the VAT back on its purchases and doesn't pay any VAT on its sales.
    Make your own minds up based on the facts.
    LOL :)

  33. @21:42

    Are you working on the specification for a new "Pedantic Tax"?

  34. Still confused. Help me please.7 June 2011 at 22:47

    ok @ 19.50 and @ 21:42

    It seems you may have changed the terms of the question.
    Just to confirm that I have this right..

    company A pays VAT to company B means that Company A is funded by the taxpayer? So I pay you £1 therefore you have funded me £1?
    !!!!That's amazing!!!!!

    also I understand that...

    VAT is a consumer tax and not a business tax. Even if it were reclaimed, which I did not say it would be, how is reclaiming money, that you have paid and that you are not liable for being funded by the taxpayer?

    Remember I did not specify the value of the transaction or the VAT status of companies.

    I'm sorry for being a dummy and not properly understanding the concept of fiscal neutrality however I think I am beginning to realise the terms by which HMRC understand and interpret the concept of fiscal and legal certaintity.

    If you could help me out with "one of the dumbest things i've ever heard" it would be of assistance.

  35. @7 June 2011 11:31

    "Except, of course, the taxpayer has a choice of whether or not he patronises a private company. With HMRC there is no such choice!"

    What about private companies that provide services to or instead of the public sector? Like Serco, A4E, EDS, HP etc. The taxpayer gets no oversight and no choice.

  36. I am 19:50 but not 21:42.

    21:42 has put it more eloquently than I ever could. But seeing as you are being so an4l perhaps I could suggest that the director of the company funds their own company and is therefore a taxpayer as unless the investment in their company came from an inheritance below the threshold, their own earned income would have been subject to tax at some point.

    Even if they did the old trick of paying themselves in dividends they'd probably suffer some kind of extra income tax along the way.

    My original argument was that people seem to think that because they contribute to someones wages either voluntarily or not, they should demand some kind of service. I am not an advocate for HMRC excom but neither am I an an advocate for the dumb middle class people who feel they have some kind of 'entitlement' to a service that suits them because the Daily Fail/Sexpress says they should feel this way.

    Get used to it, you had your cake and it had food poisoning. You only have yourselves to blame.

  37. Re companies being funded by the taxpayer.

    I've tried to stay out of this one, particularly as it's pretty off-topic, but those on both side of the debate have, I think, stayed so far from the true position that I can't help myself.

    Some examples of how tax funds private enterprise in the UK, just off the top of my head:

    - obviously government provides direct and indirect subsidy to some businesses

    - it provides an educated workforce

    - it creates and maintains infrastructure that allows goods, customers and employees to flow in and out

    - it reduces the losses incurred by businesses in respect of sick absences by providing healthcare to employees (and customers)

    - the fact that many things that are funded by tax are free at the point of use (e.g. primary/secondary education, healthcare), reduces a) individuals' living costs, meaning you can pay them less and they have more disposable income to spend on your goods and services and b) the amount you have to fork out for things like employee healthcare plans (see, for example, US healthcare costs, which are nearly 4 times as much as in the UK and on most quality measures score more poorly, except for the super-rich, who can just indulge in health tourism anyway)

    - tax funds the legal system which provides a framework within which business can operate effectively

    - I could of course go on

    Coming back to 7 June, 07:57's point, which I think is that there's are double standards behind public institutions being held to account for allegedly lavish spending when private companies spend much more on the same sort of things are "funded by taxpayers", I think it makes more sense if we instead say "funded by the general public".

    Pension funds have enormous stakes in large UK companies, and the general public (who are also taxpayers) thereby can be said to fund both the public sector and a large proportion of companies.

    Of course, we (rightly) don't have state-owned tabloid papers, so it's perhaps no great surprise that public-sector spending comes under closer scripting...

    Stew G

  38. Oops! I meant "closer scrutiny". Blasted predictive text!

    Stew G

  39. Coming back to the story, no wonder HMRC has such a bunch of muppets in senior management! Why would anyone with any talent want the job?

    The pay is a fraction of what a talented person would get in a comparable job in the private sector, yet there's constant whining in the papers (whose editors, many of whom do an unquestionably less socially productive job, get paid who-knows-what) about salaries, "gold-plated" pensions and bonuses (see the HMRC annual report for details of these).

    Meanwhile, the government repeatedly cuts the budget year-on-year while (in itself, quite rightly) demanding better performance but refusing to approve any serious measures to simplify the tax system. Unsurprisingly, staff morale and service levels plummet as a result. An initiative comes along to incentivise staff (and yes, I'm willing to bet a £50 donation to the charity of 6 June 12:46's choice that, if The Sun article hasn't prevented this event from going ahead, there'll be awards to AO and below) to improve service levels using, for once, a carrot rather than stick approach, and at a rock-bottom price (£130 a head!? How much do you people think stuff costs in the real world?). Lo and behold the country's most-read daily launches a personal attack ("loony", "bungling", "brains", etc).

    Well I certainly wouldn't want the job of trying to run the show, and in the current environment anyone actually qualified to do so would surely have the brains to run a mile to a nice, stress-free, 8-figure hedge-fund post. Now that, for those who are about to lay into me for what will no doubt be branded as brown-nosing (anonymously, no less - go figure), is the point. This society is getting so out of touch with what's important, that those with the smarts to benefit society can get obscenely high rewards for doing things that don't, or are even actively detrimental. This leaves essential jobs like running the tax system to those who are incapable of addressing an internal webcast with any degree of authority and poise, let along taking tough decisions.

    Stew G

  40. "7 June 2011 11:31" et al.

    There is a choice - leave the country. Go to the UAE or another non tax paying country.

    7 June 2011 15:15



  41. @8 June 2011 12:51

    I could it be using the simple retaliatory logic applied elsewhere in the thread maybe?

  42. Tell you what, read the comments on

    This will demonstrate how weak your "I pay your wages" argument is.

  43. I think I will avoid sea air from now on, it seems to generate a lot of agression.

  44. My God, handbags at dawn.
    If only posters could get so agitated about the real issues we could be cooking on gas (except that its just gone up by 20%) lets just use the paper that HMRC generates instead, shredded and formed into biiquettes it could last for a millenium at least.
    And while we are at it, tap into all the methane from the bullshit surrounding Lean & Pacesetter and you could heat the home counties for a few more years!
    Back to basics chaps and chapesses, please debate HMRCISHITE, why?

  45. It seems that if a reader here created an account on the Southend Standard website just to continue their ramblings at midnight.

    FedUpWithHMRC1, says...

    HMRC staff should go on strike more often and for longer. At least then the public will then realise that we don't need you.

    But obviously you do need HMRC otherwise you'd have nothing to keyboard warrior about whilst your so *obviously* busy with your nose to the grindstone that you have time to leave comments on websites at midnight.

  46. "YOU'RE" not "your"

  47. @15 June 2011 00:20

    and gramattikal err0r5

  48. It seems it is acceptable to skit HMRC employees while not wishing to offer any praise for things that they are doing well, and believe me they do many things well. I am not a manager. I am an A grade; one of the masses. One of the problems HMRC has, is that too many of the “tax payers” try to defraud the department by avoiding taxes or fraudulently claiming and as a result, divert much of its resources to try to defend the tax payer against criminality. Another problem is you staff who are prepared to accept the wage (and it’s not a bad one; I’m on £18.5k and relatively happy with it) but aren’t prepared to accept the very reforms that would make things better and reduce the senseless ranting that fill these dire pages. OK, Pacesetter has flaws, but if you are too busy whining at it and not engaging in the process and making corrective suggestions (which is what Pacesetter is all about), why stay? You are part of the problem because you’re not willing to consider change and flexibility. HMRC is by no means an ideal employer. It is by no means a flawless organisation...that is very plain to see. However, if someone who works there has an idea that saves the tax payer millions, or finds a way that works better and improves performance then why not reward them? Just because you can’t be arsed to think outside of the box and are jealous at the success of others who do, doesn’t make an awards night a waste of money or a junket. Many on those nominated for awards have suggested things that aren't within their work stream or of which they have not being expected to propose. In a private business setting they would be called inspirational and lauded with bonus payments and tax free perks. Why do you suppose that HMRC shouldn't offer a form of motivation to its workforce when as a result of these people's efforts the very people who slag them off, the taxpayer, have been saved millions.
    On the point of poor performance in the Contact Centres I would agree that at its peak performance is apparently very poor. However, what would you rather HMRC do. Employ 5000 more contact centre staff; train them and support them, when after 6 or 8 weeks we would have nothing much for them to so. Our tax system means we have a busy period every year. The taxpayer could help themselves by filing declaration in goo time or returning tax credit renewals as soon after they get them as possible, instead of waiting until the last week or two before deadline to try and phone in and wonder why their aren’t enough people to deal with their call. Why not see how many calls each advisor has dealt with per day compared to say a similar week in November. Of course you could stop leave. Deprive people of time with their families during the summer holiday because GB PLC can’t be arsed to deal with their business expediently and wait until he last bloody minute to act. I’ll stand up here and tell you all…I’m bloody proud to work for HMRC…far more proud than the people who have so much time on their hands that they whine at every step the department makes to reward exceptional performance.

    Stew G, 08 June 00.23…I concur!

  49. @28 August 2011 12:55

    Some of the principles of pacesetter would be excellent if all managers were bothered enough to make it work properly.

    The flaw is that they still reward the person who is several grades above you or whose face happens to fit rather than you yourself coming up with the idea which is why most people are skeptical. If an idea is borne out of cynicism it's not taken on board.

    I once had an idea that benefited customer demand and shortened the process on the HMRC side but because I'm just a lowly AO who happens to be a union rep it got sidelined and bastardised/bureaucratised by PSN and it's now in the PAYE Manual as an unworkable 'action guide' which misses out several groups of customers because the customers don't fit the HMRC pacesetter jigsaw puzzle.