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, 1 November 2011

HMRC Staff Survey - Political Arm Twisting

Following on from my article about the fall in percentage responses to the HMRC staff survey (down from 69% to 52%), Taxation have published an interesting report about the political arm twisting that went on behind the scenes in the run up to this year's HMRC staff survey.

Loyal readers will doubtless recall that in April this year, Steve Lamey of Excom set the cat amongst the pigeons by stating that offices with low engagement scores would be closed.

Taxation made a Freedom of Information Act request, and obtained correspondence received and sent from the office of HMRC CEO Lesley Strathie. The correspondence shows, unsurprisingly, that PCS and ARC received complaints from members who were somewhat "underwhelmed" by Lamey's remarks.

The Grande Dame then went on to issue an intranet message, saying that poor engagement would be considered only because it made offices less productive. HMRC’s media relations department went into damage limitation mode and prepared a media statement, which claimed:

"Staff engagement does not decide where we maintain a physical presence".

It then went on to deny what had previously been stated by Lamey about survey scores being a criterion in closures.

However, here's a subtle twist, the Grande Dame's orifice then edited the draft release, removing the first claim and amending the second to reiterate that ‘employee engagement on its own would never determine an office’s future’.

Aha, a subtle change wouldn't you agree?

However, it doesn't end there.

On 17 May (the week in which the unions’ conferences were discussing boycott motions) the Grande Dame was summoned to the Cabinet Office.

Can you guess what happened next children?

Yes, that's right, the Grande Dame was forced to make another amendment.


"Decisions on office closures are only taken [sic] after exhaustive consideration of a wide range of factors, but People Survey scores are not one of those factors."

Having done her masters' bidding, the Grande Dame was rewarded with an email from the Cabinet Secretary’s office saying that the statement it was ‘a very good note’.

Now that was rather an interesting story wasn't it?

It seems to me that HMRC's political masters can see that things are near breaking point, but that Excom still have their heads firmly buried in the sand.

So, who is really calling the shots now in HMRC, Excom or the Cabinet Orifice?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Isn't Ms Strathie's three month sick leave up now? Is anybody asking where she is? Is anybody enquirying about her current health?

  2. One of the most striking things about this, and I commented on this site at the time, is Lamey's original statement. What on earth was he thinking? Given the circumstances it has to be one of the most crass statements ever. It can only be reflective of one of two things - incredible arrogance or unbelievable ignorance. This man is paid a small fortune - why? I think enough is known of Leslie Strathie to understand why he is still in a job, but surely he cannot stay in post if morale is ever to improve - who now would be inspired by him?

  3. Oh! What a tangled web we weave
    When first we practise to deceive!

    As has been repeated ad nauseum on this site and comments from people at the front line. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Lies, damned lies and statistics = Pacesetter
    An enigma wrapped in a mystery= Change Programme
    Lunatics have taken over the asylum= HMRC

    As I have said before, things will get a lot worse before they get better. But I still think the Survey results will show an improvement mainly due to the shamefully low participation rates and the propaganda blitz in August and September. Anyone else noticed the lack of Newsboard feel good stuff of late?

  4. @12.22

    Yes, sick leave should be over, unless there were other complications or recovery from the surgery (no one knows what's wrong with her BTW).

    But I suspect the lack of information about DLS has more to do with a certain D Hartnett's current travails!

    If any more news about less than transparent activities comes out, Hartnett and Strathie could both be in hot water. Until then, for EXCOM, no news is good news.

  5. Intersting to note is Steve Lamey is biggest earner in HMRC with salary of £210,000 Straithie gets about £170,000