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, 16 September 2011

Ground Hog Day

On 7th September HMRC's Chairman, Mike Clasper, hosted a meeting at 100 Parliament Street to discuss HMRC service delivery.

The meeting had been requested by a number of professional bodies/charities (one could, for want of a better word, call them "stakeholders") including:

- the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales,
- the Chartered Institute of Taxation,
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland,
- the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants,
- the Association of Accounting Technicians,
- the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group,
- Tax Aid
- TaxHelp for Older People.

Why was the meeting called?

The stakeholders wanted to follow through on the recommendation of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee’s that HMRC should work closely with the professional bodies, tax charities and businesses to improve the end‐to‐end experience of dealing with HMRC.

In addition to Clasper, HMRC sent along some senior managers.

Despite the fact that HMRC are happy that statistics show that in recent months there has been a significant improvement in overall post handling times..really???..HMRC recognise that this improvement is not consistently reflected in the actual experience of taxpayers and agents.

In other words, from the perspective of the stakeholders the statistics are wrong or are (shall we say) measuring the wrong variables.

Anyhoo, on the 14th of September HMRC issued a joint statement which outlines the agreement made as a result of the meeting.

The whole area of post handling and processing will now be looked at in depth, to understand how far the recent improvements are reflected in the actual experience of taxpayers and agents. Additionally, the reasons for the experience and perception of HMRC’s customers being different from that of HMRC managers will also be examined. 


"It was agreed that as a first stage, work should be taken forward quickly and on three fronts:
  • Post processing and handling should be looked at in detail to establish where problems still exist and how they can be resolved (and HMRC’s performance measures reviewed where necessary to ensure that they are credible and effective). This work will be complemented by a review of the following processes where it is believed improvements can be made: non Self Assessment repayment claims, automated PAYE coding notices and practical issues relating to deceased estates.
  • A number of agents and charity representatives will spend time with HMRC’s front line service delivery teams to look at processes in detail from a customer perspective and make recommendations as appropriate.
  • HMRC will carry out structured visits to the offices of a number of practitioners and charities to gain an in depth understanding of service delivery as seen from a customer perspective.
The intention is to pursue this initiative within a very stringent timeframe to obtain tangible fast track results with a view to facilitating quick resolution in a number of areas. The joint initiative will commence on 3 October and progress on the initial three work streams will be reviewed by 30 November.

Mike Clasper said:

'Tax agents along with the charity and voluntary sector are vitally important customer and stakeholder groups for HMRC and I welcome their offer to work with us so we can better understand how to improve. We know that they and their clients are seriously impacted when we get things wrong and we are determined to deliver a better service.

We need to get a better understanding of the interaction of our customers and stakeholders with HMRC and of their experiences in resolving tax issues. Working with agent colleagues inside and outside HMRC will provide that knowledge and lead to better services for all of our customers.'

The professional bodies and tax charities said:

'We and HMRC are working very closely together to try to resolve a number of service delivery issues. This exercise is emphatically not a ‘talking shop’ and where appropriate we intend to make public the results and the action to be taken from the work streams we have embarked on.'"

The publication of the joint statement gave rise to an optimistic statement from Michael Izza (CEO of the ICAEW) on his blog:

"HMRC has made similar promises in the past to tackle service issues yet have failed to deliver. 

I believe this time will be different. 

Thanks in no small part to the role played by our Tax Faculty and in particular, Paul Aplin, chair of its technical committee, we now have a partnership with HMRC and a very public commitment from the very top to a way forward which will help turn things around."

I do not wish to discredit Michael's viewpoint and optimism.

However, having run this site for many years I have a feeling of deja vu wrt the promises being made and a feeling that we are now in the endgame wrt the current structure/leadership of HMRC.

Reading between the lines of the statement (re the comments about perceptions) I get the feeling that HMRC do not want to believe that there is a service issue, and that this will be used to try to discredit "stakeholder" perceptions of poor service.

Additionally, from my cynical ("tired old eyes") perspective, even if the promises are genuine given the state of HMRC I don't see that they will/can be fulfilled.

Given that I am so cynical, and therefore partisan in my viewpoint, I would really value hearing the viewpoints of my loyal readers (especially those who work within HMRC) as to the likelihood of this actually delivering what it promises to deliver.

BTW, whatever happened to the Charter?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Perhaps Mr Clasper should have invited some lower grade staff, who would have been able to correctly explain why service delivery is so bad!

  2. Heard today that the report into Administrative Effectiveness of HMRC is to be revisited.

    Wonder what the motivation is, perhaps the smoke has blown away and the mirrors have all shattered?

    maybe, just maybe, M.P.'s have had enough of the lies and subterfuge. Hopefully the NAO wakes up as a result and who knows even those at HMIC/IPCC to sort out all the "naughtiness"!

  3. FFS why oh farking why do these twats keep banging on about "customers". We are taxpayers... taxpayers... taxpayers... hello, hello, is anyone in ExCom actually listening?!!!

  4. Anon @ 19:56...

    It is patronising and annoying in the extreme to mis-describe taxpayers as "customers". Just who do HMRC think they are trying to kid?

  5. Customers obviously have choice, and when it goes wrong the law provides for redress.
    If you allegedly provide a customer service and it is crap, remember Ratners anyone? Then you will end up going bust because no-one wants or will pay for crap service.
    Is someone, somewhere, missing the point of these basic precepts?
    La La Land at the end of the yellow brick road, inhabited by the Munchkins as well as the Muppets is a service based organisation, always has been, always should be. Apart from hot air and waste paper, unless we are all mistaken, nothing else is manufactured in the organisation, oh, sorry, forgot statistics, easy mistake..., and PDE (staff reports) they have just been agreed, almost hald way through the year?! FFS!
    Vote, and vote wisely and while you are at it complete the staff survey.
    You know it makes sense!

  6. Talking of post turn around times, I left the revenue 4 years ago. Back in them days the post (correspondence) was counted and reported as, 15 days old and under, 40 days old and under and over 40 days old. In our office there was never a piece of post over 40 days old. Wow, HMRC were really good back in them days, lots of staff working hard to fulfil the government's commitment of providing an excellent service. In the words of the then director to delight our customers. Well, no. When the post was 40 days old it got put in a drawer and only worked if the person rang up to complain.

  7. Going back to the postal service, which was what the original post was about, the current shortcomings are largely due to the introduction of regional post rooms. (RPR) Back in the day, a taxpayer sent a letter to his tax office in, say, Bristol, this would be opened by the post clerks in the local post room and delivered to the correct person's desk on the day. Now it will be delivered to Bristol, sent to the RPR in Cardiff and then, with any luck, be sent back to Bristol. On the other hand, it could just as easily be sent to Merthyr Tydfil or Southampton. By the same token, any post out will go via Cardiff as well. This was supposed to be more efficient, as I never tired of explaining to agents before I bailed out.

  8. Following on from @ 00:45

    Try a feew of the Professionals examples from here:-

    You could not dream it up!

  9. Taxpayers are customer because HMRC spen hundreds of thousands on a consultation that says thats what taxpayers wanted ;)

  10. As citizens, we pay high taxes to different things, for this reason it’s important to know to be paid, because taxes are paid and how and who manages them. Besides the profession of each one, all we must know a little about finance and economics.