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.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Plus Ca Change - Off With The Rose Coloured Specs

Rose Coloured Specs
My thanks to a loyal reader who advises me that HMRC plans to address the issues wrt poor management, before the next HMRC staff survey, are not going well.

The issue, it seems, is not that local management do not take the new leadership values seriously, but that many of the SMT/SLTs are over promoted and under talented.

The Directorate are beginning to discover that the problem is worse than they realised.

Loyal HMRC readers are asked to look out for personnel changes at their local centres (specifically within personal tax), as this will identify where the recent review of G6/G7's has found problems.

HMRC's fate rests on the forthcoming staff survey, and the Directorate knows that.

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  1. I am impressed with your sources Mr Frost.

    The capability review us a part of the 4 year change programme and G6 (with a small number if G7s) have been reviewed. This gas overrun by a month as the original completion date was July. Why it has overrun is obvious to anyone who has to deal with HMRC. There are "issues".

    Changes will be made and some of these individuals will be reshuffled. Announcements are immanent.

    You are right that any information on local changes at SMT level will be a consequence of the capability review.

    But more is coming. There will also be a review of the junior management as well. A Band O (third from bottom of 13 layers) had a review last year and there was a lot of movement. But HO & SOs (4th and 5th from bottom out of 13), didn't get reviewed. This will be addressed along with yet another Band O review, or a re-review if you want to be pedantic. Why 2 Band O reviews in less than 2 years? The answer, the first review wasn't as transparent and well managed as it could have been. HOs and SOs were playing favourites and penalising staff based on personalities rather than competencies.

    This sure should be rather interesting in a few months. I ask staff to monitor the community forum and a special eye on Hotsest questions.

    Well done to this site for bringing up an event that will impact a fair volume of "customers" as well as staff. The major changes will impact Customer Operations (the largest part of Personal Tax), as that is where the lowest levels of staff engagement are and where negativity about management is at it's highest.

  2. Ken

    What happened to the comment that was on here fifteen minutes ago?

  3. Spam filter picked up a post for some reason..have restored that the one?

  4. Yes, thank you Ken

  5. I could name a few that should go - no actually more like 80% of the Band O's.

  6. A lot of O's are a disgrace, but in cust ops, the HOs and SOs that let these morons behave the way they do need to be named and shamed.

    This post of Kens could be the most important one this year. Taxpayers can not continue to be let down by HMRC through incompetence at every managerial level.

  7. An illustration of the way in which management grades proliferate in HMRC - A single operational Division, originally managed by one experienced G7. The G7 is replaced by a more senior G6 (a former IR 'Tax Specialist' with "excellent qualifications" but almost no relevant experience). Unsurprisingly, the new G6 finds the going tough and so an assistant is appointed. Another G6! The result, one job for the price of two more expensive jobs.

  8. It might be an idea for part of this review to look at the number of Tribunal cases HMRC are facing at the moment. That would quickly identify the HO and SO staff that have no idea of the Legislation governing Employment and wont ask questions of those higher up the line for fear of rocking the boat.

  9. Find out the answers to the following:-
    How much has the recent bill for sickness abence reached (inc. sick pay, substitution, occupational health referral costs, compensation, court costs, legal advice etc.)?
    What is the cause of the highest/most sick absence?
    Never mind tribunals, what is the state of play with grievances and to what do they relate - and I don't mean just the odd successful ones I mean all those submitted.
    unfortunately the majority of the taff are not resilient enough and that allows a certain type of manager to have free rein when combined with hear no evil bosses i.e. the Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome.
    Keep up the impetus ken that glow on the horizon i getting brighter!

  10. It's time to play the music...

    If the next survey only has 40 participating organisations and the Glorious 103rd came 40th, or last again, would the fact that they only show as 40th be classed as a huge improvement?
    Applying Lean principles or even Pacesetter, I am sure it would be viewed as success.

    I think the beleagured taff at HMRC have een the light and will vote accordingly.

  11. In support of all the comments above.

    It seems baffling that the SCS took this long to understand that the message percolating from below were horse$hit. How is it possible that three years of dire results in the people survey whereby staff identified pi$$ poor managers as the cause of undue stress and tension that in 2011 they are in the middle of a "capability" review?

    It is disgraceful that only one member of ExComm has left the building. It is even more disgraceful that the shower that call themselves "Senior Management Teams" have been allowed to screw up royally year in year out.

    The taxpayer pays for this mess. Who the hell is looking after their interests?

    Good luck Ken with the drip drip of information regarding issues that don't make the headlines. And to the staff who keep posting here, please continue. Transparency in these circumstances is the best disinfectant.

  12. @16.48

    The management structure at local centres in cust ops was designed by Satan himself. I can tell you that there have been shuffling of cards for three years where centres are merged or disparate geographical locations are lumped together. East of England has centres that encompass the Southern England, West Midlands, Norfolk and the North East with one G6, multiple G7s at the local offices all with their "SMTs" I dread to think how many SOs and HOs are gorging at this pork barrel.

    This would be fine and dandy if the staff were seeing the benefits of consolidation, but there is bugger all that happens to make you feel you are part of a big "centre".

    They shuffle the cards, but each hand is a losing hand.

  13. 26 August 2011 16:36


    I'm not sure about everywhere else but in our office, Officers signed off yearly PDEs.
    I questioned that right from the start. HO yes but an Officer? Particularly the one in our team.

    PDEs were based on how much you smiled, offered to make tea and coffee, complemented the said officer, etc. Rather than the contribution you made to the departments collection and administration of VAT.

    This worked ok before the merger in 05-they got away with it, but when the shit hit the fan, you could see the Officer/HO/SO people who obviously didnt have any managerial skill at dealing or coping with a crisis. A lot of them had obviously got to those grades in the Revenue and Customs/Excise through a culture of arse-licking, networking and bluff.

    True, the shitload of HMRC was created further up the chain in Whitehall but the morons at these grades never questioned or objected to the shit as it was passed down the chain.
    The bottom line is there are many people from both former departments who were simply not qualified to be at those grades.

  14. Some yank said that when the tide goes out, you find out who was swimming in the nude. Is it possible that the tide is washing away and a fair few managers are not even in possession of a fig leaf to cover their modesty?

    Roll on the changes. Let's see how the managers adapt to change. Change is good, isn't it? :)

  15. It is refreshing to see real people who know what they are talking about posting on this site at long last.
    To the hardcore of loyal readers of Ken I say well done.
    To the newbies I say welcome on board.
    The standard of management throughout the Glorious 103rd is bordering on totally ineffective. It is obvious that the top has woken up to the reality below them and realised that what they have been told is perhaps what is not so?
    As an example, WTF are team leader HO's doing occupying single rooms when their team is shoe-horned into unsuitable rooms> What happened to all in it together?
    Ditch the whiteboard stats environment, stats should be capable of being collected remotely in 2011 FFS, not manually with a bod walking round every hour asking "wot 'ave you done?".
    Otherwise WTF has all the IT money been spent on?
    And my pet hate, printing reams of paperwork that duplicate what is on the database, working it, creating a spreadsheet or two and then shredding what you printed - aah, but thats OK, we have a green recycing policy. Idiots, you shouldn't be creating the waste paper in the first place - you have IT to replace that! Oh, its OK, its not our money, is it? Doh, yes, you are taxpayers/customers/end user's too you know.

  16. @ anonymous 08.41

    There have always been regular commentators on this site that raise issues about the worst Civil Service Dept, but the threads get derailed by mutters and Ken has to put up a new post to keep the site moving.

    It's frustrating, but slowly this year Ken has realised that problems at local management are an issue. He has been building up a picture slowly. Look at the archives and there are very specific posts about directorates losing faith with SMTs that correlate perfectly with most staff experiences. What has your SMT done locally to deal with People Survey issues? In 2011, the answer would be nothing, nada, zilch, sweet FA! Then ask why? Because the Directorates have realised there are big problems with their local numpties in management.

    Read the select committe report and one piece stands out for me. The most "compelling" ( their word, not mine) evidence came from Martin Lewis, EX SO, who said the local mgts never tell the truth to the directorates about the problems at the front line. The committee also called reps from ExComm "delusional" and "arrogant".

    A hurricane will hit the organisation when the next people survey results are announced in Jan 2012. After which, Strathie and Hartnett had assured the Select Committee that engagement will be 65% in 2012. So they have next year to pretty much double staff engagement!

    There is a theme running through a lot of Kens posts on this, and I suspect the "loyal reader" that passed on the gems to this site has to be SCS or thereabouts. Honestly, it's great that someone at directorate or above gives a monkeys, as I did not believe they did prior to reading a lot of recent posts on here.

  17. Can't see it happening. There will be a feeling of discontent amongst the management whilst this review goes on then it will be business as usual for the Officer Grades (O,HO,SO) that currently manage a majority of the workers.

  18. I have never seen so many useless managers as have been apparent in recent years in HMRC.

    For some reason, none of them appear capable of making a decision without passing it up the line.

    This has stifled innovation and risk taking to such an extent that no-one gives a flying feck anymore about what's going on. Some managers within their little fiefdoms are so tyrannical they beggar belief, and these idiots are reponsible for the mess that HMRC currently is.

    Split it sooner than later, have an Internal Revenue System (IRS) and a completely seperate Customs Service, concentrate on the core functions and re-establish credibility and self esteem.

  19. Because of budget cuts made by this madcap Govt HMRC has to make serious reductions in manpower at the levels of AA,AO and O these are the grades with the greatest headcount.
    Does anyone who contributes to this board think that changes will be made by the powers that be and things will get better?, not a hope, it's not going to happen, the Govt don't want to lose face and admit the cuts in the dept are wrong and EX-Com refuse to change their ideas because there is no plan B.
    I doubt any survey will give the results to damn seniour management when ARC and the FDA are balloting members on a boycott of the survey, and pcs are talking about non-cooperation quote from PCS website " Our advice in PCS is that we don’t need to ballot in order to recommend our members withdraw their participation from what is voluntary completion of a survey".

  20. I'm not sure boycotting the survey would be the right move.
    Many staff at grass roots level see the survey as the only opportunity for having their say, with a chance of impact.
    PCS appears to have lost its sense of direction as evidenced by its support for pacesetter even when the vast majority of members have no faith in the process.
    Pacesetter is akin to Stalinism in that it brokers no dissent, the party line must be followed at all costs and the god of statistics fed remorselessly.
    And as for lean, well...
    Toyota, as has been stated before, learnt the hard way WRT reality.
    getting someone to realise that a business model based on a manufacturing process does not fit a public service is harder than turning base metal into gold.
    Centralisation has been a disaster for all concerned, epecially the "customers", and the mission statements don't fool anyone except the pacesetter evangelists and management clones.
    Get a grip HMRC, time has just about run out.

  21. Just saw this posted on the last thread, by anonymous. Apologies for stealing your post, but it's well worth getting a wider readership for it. Please continue to post, whomever you are, this site is slowly evolving into an indispensable trove of information :)

    "To add to the mix they are recruiting a new Head of Chief Executives Private Office (G6) and Private Secretary to the Chief Executive (G7) - both posts are currently filled by staff who came across from DWP when DLS got the job. So why are they advertsing the posts again? Could it be that all three are transfering?

    29 August 2011 05:16"

  22. Sorry, forgot to add to the last post... To those that have been saying no changes will occur - Seems changes are occurring at very fast rate from my POV!

  23. The bubble is about to burst, you won't want to be anywhere near it when the effluvium hits the fan.
    There will be a rush to apportion blame instead of getting on with sorting the problem out.
    be interesting if Pacesetter slides quietly into the dust, only problem is there will be a glut of used whiteboards coming up for sale, never mind as long as the prats that worshipped them are thrown in for free then the remainder will benefit.

  24. Someone mentioned £26bn aas being the amount of money that I believe was identified as money not collected (for whatever reason) by HMRC over the last 5 years.
    Now, unless I am missing something here, this amount is not the real figure of money not hitting the exchequer coffers is it?
    What about the real "Black Hole" of the true tax gap?
    Add that to the below basement level of staff morale and even an eternal optimist can't fail to see the real picture.
    The country, taxpayers and staff of HMRC deserve better.
    One heck of a challenge but don't expect the politicians to do anything unless they have to.
    There is your challenge Ken - go for a 100,000 plus petition to do something serious about this gross waste of taxpayers money - I bet you get it in under 10 days if you elicit the right support (PCS, ARC,taxpayers Alliance, pensioners, accountants/agents even the odd politician)?
    I guarantee you my vote for starters.

  25. I have seen a few postscalluding to Pacesetter biting the dust. Where has this come from as from my experience, I see it being rolled out everywhere in Cust Ops, and every missive from ExCom mentions it at least once.

    To those that say pacesetter is dying (I am not a fan btw), is this true or wishful thinjing?

  26. Is pacesettter something that "they" have hung their hat on?
    When anything is derided to the extent that posters on this site report it can't have much of a future, can it?
    Would anyone have bought into it in reality i.e. shares, trusts or kickbacks, no, that could never happen in the public service surely?
    Is there something else we are not beng told, perhaps there is worse to come - pacesetter II, the sequel.
    I think the top brass may need a bit of help from someone who is capable and with a proven track record of trouble shooting - John Harvey Jones with Dennis skinner in a supporting role - it might just work.

  27. A couple of points -
    Poster on 27/8 at 14:40 is spot on - especially quoting Martin Lewis - middle managers are terrified of passing on bad news to the top because they are afraid of looking bad, so the top don't know the real picture at the front line
    I have said this on other posts - please do not knock tax caseworkers at whatever grade ( and are mainly O and HO) as we are competent and keen to do the best, it seems that it is the O and HO pure managers who are a problem.
    Re the poster who quoted the tax gap - it is actually £42bn- yet since the merger I am one of the small band of half a dozen VAT assurance staff left in my office whereas beforehand there were 30 of us - so it is hardly surprising the tax gap is so big

  28. Old Codger

    It was my post about Martin Lewis. And thank you for commenting on it. You are also correct that not all officer grades are a part of the problem. Trouble is in Cust Ops where a majority of taxpayers and their agents have their regular (or scant) exposure to us. It is here that the "pure managers" are destroying the ethos and "engagement".

    It is also unfortunate that "pure managers" are not required to understand the work of the staff they are allegedly managing, especially at HO/O level. This will have to be corrected very soon. As you are ex C&E, and your team has been reduced, where next for VAT collection? I pray you don't end up the way of the poor saps working SA.

  29. @20.22

    Only problem with your solution is that John Harvey-Jones died three years ago. Having said that, he would probably still do a better job now than Strathie and her little helpers.

  30. @ Anon 12:36...

    11 layers of management. FFS... htrunnespow many layers of management does HMRC need?

  31. HMRC actually has 13 layers of management. I am not joking. Between a lowly AA and Leslie Strathie there are 9 layers!

  32. HMRC actually has 13 layers of management. I am not joking. Between a lowly AA and Leslie Strathie there are 9 layers!