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, 15 March 2013

PCS Brief On Enquiry Centre Closures

My thanks to a loyal reader who sent me the following transcript of PCS's brief (issued today) on the announcement by HMRC of the closure of the Enquiry Centres:
"HMRC approached us to emphasise that they were fully prepared to enter into meaningful dialogue with PCS and ARC on a strictly confidential basis. These talks were to be ahead of any firm decision about the future direction in respect of customers needing enhanced support. We welcomed this offer and dialled into a telecom on 21 Feb in what can only be described as a very bizarre meeting. The heading of the meeting was 'the future of f2f enquiry centres' but when we tried to discuss this we were informed it was now changed to 'customers who need enhanced support'

We made it clear at the meeting what PCS response would be to closures and it was agreed in the spirit of employee relations agreement to hold weekly meetings. HMRC hoped to inform us of timescales at first meeting as well as give details of trials and research undertaken.

These meetings never took place and following cancellation of second scheduled one by HMRC our group secretary deputy and full time officer were invited to a confidential.meeting last week in which they were informed of the plans.
It looks as though HMRC were playing games with the unions.

Do bear in mind that HMRC have been planning the demise of the Enquiry Centres for quite some time.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. And PCS haven't seen this coming over the last few years, my Ar@e!

    The amount of money they take from membership in subs is huge, just not sure what they are doing with it but it certainly seems as though its not used to represent the members who contribute it!

    Perhaps it is about time the Executive got off its collective fat ar@e and did something better than spouting the same old useless crap at conference?

    You won't have any fecking members left the way things are going they will all be claiming Universal Credit!

  2. If you don't like the way the union is run, stand for election and make a difference. If your views are popular, it should be a cinch.

    Or you could just whine on here...

    1. Good post, I think people don't understand the word Union and what it means ;)

    2. Sorry? Did I imagine the high subscriptions, the huge salaries at the top or the expense of the new HQ?

      Value for money? Don't think so.

      Effective, depends whether you are a leftist guerilla from an ethnic minority in a foreign country - then you get some representation and a bit of money spent on you.

      Also, having been a CPSA rep. on more than one occasion in my day, I don't need any lectures on PCS "election" ta!

      Most of the current crop wouldn't know what a confrontation was whether with management or the old bill when exercising one's rights outside your place of work.

      The challenge for PCS is to be seen to do something more than just spout rhetoric, protect the members and the public at the same time.

  3. Bit surprised that PCS leadership have not at the very least challenged Homer's sums

    As posted in the main thread I would like to see how Homer's claim that each Tax Enquiry Centre call cost £152 was calculated. If that figure is correct and 2.5 million taxpayers visited Enquiry centres in 2011-2012 then the total cost of running these offices would be in the region of £380 million per annum. Given that total I would be expecting annual savings far larger than the £13 million that HMRC are predicting.

    The sums look even stranger when you consider that the 1300 staff working in these centres are unlikely to be earning much above the average national wage of about £25,000. By my calculation the total cost of staff wages can not be more than £33 million and even adding on Employers NIC and Employers Pension Contributions will not take the amount over £50 million. One then has to ask where the other £330 million is being spent. It seems an awful lot to be paying for some office space, a few PCs, a server, some printers and a few telephones.

    Ken. Someone really ought to ask HMRC for a break down of the figure

    1. Agree with your post that HMRC figures are probably made up. However I suspect the 1300 staff at risk would more likely earn less than £20,000 pa. The average wage has always been a value that concerns me. Does it include for instance footballers,music and film stars, politicians and heads of industry. It would be interesting to know the average wage of people earning £50,000pa or less.

    2. Firsly the average is £152 some like Birmingham cost £123 others like Yeovil cost £500 according to bosses.

      Staff in EC's earn between £12,000-£19,000 depending on your grade and years worked and progression (sniggers).

    3. It is over a decade since I worked for the Revenue so I just based the salary estimation on what the current equivalent of the old Revenue Executive grade earns as listed on to HMRC's web site. I agree most staff would probably earn under £20,000 I also know the costs vary from office to office but the average holds good for a rough and ready calculation of the total cost of operation for the entire Enquiry Centre network. HMRC release on the closures is puzzling since it claims savings both for the Revenue itself and its customers. This makes me suspect that they are lumping in notional costs for things such as the time and travel expenses incurred by taxpayers when visiting an enquiry centre into their figures. This is a totally bogus accounting trick as this is no more an additional cost to the HMRC than expense incurred by a taxpayer in telephone charges and rentals when they call a contact centre or the cost of monthly broadband and buying a PC to deal with HMRC on line. You can be certain that those sums have not been added to the HMRC figures that claim that the cost of each Contact Centre call is just £3 (which obviously does not cover the cost of the man hours spent by the public waiting for the phones to respond) or an online transaction is just 9p.

      Of course, underlying his charade is he continuing push by the government to make citizens not only do their job of tax calculation and payment for them but also bear the cost of supplying IT and communication infrastructure as well. In effect much of the cost of running the tax system has not been removed from the British economy. It has simply been moved elsewhere.

    4. The true cost of this hopeless organisation may never be realised as there is no way the politico's will ever allow the taxpayer to learn what is being wasted within HMRC, and that's before you calculate the cost to the "customer".

      The system does not care about taxpayers money, whether it is that which is blown by HMRC or the obscene amounts given to the bankers.

      Run properly, things would be a lot different, but there you go.

    5. She said each of the visits "from people who genuinely needed face-to-face hep" cost £152, and claimed that these were 16% of total visits.

      So that's 400,000 x 152 = 60m.

      Presumably dealing with the ones who didn't "genuinely" need f2f help has been treated as part of the cost of dealing with those who do. I also assume they reckon the cost of the new service will be about £47m.

      It looks like they reckon the savings will predominantly come from not having to deal f2f with 2.1m people who allegedly don't "genuinely" need it.

      I agree, though, there are a lot of assumptions in there, so like you I would be interested to see whether they stack up, particularly because they seem to have decided to do this before running the pilot!

      Stew G

    6. How do you decide what constitutes 'genuinely needing help' and how do you cost it. That is a qualitative not a quantitative judgement. You know as well as I do that they simply decided to shut the enquiry centres and then made up the figures to justify the step afterwards. In particular it is a crazy decision to take on the eve of the roll out of RTI which HMRC themselves trumpet as the biggest change to PAYE since its inception and is bound to lead to additional enquiries from both employers and employees. Anyway PAC do not seem too impressed with Homer's performance and nor am I.

    7. Re your first two sentences, I don't see that this is a particularly difficult thing to quantify. The floor walkers with clipboards would only need to count the number of people who came back for more after having been referred to the phones.

      I wouldn't accept that the figures are "made up". Collected, chosen and used very selectively to justify a decision that had already been made? Probably.

      Stew G

  4. There are more than a few issues central to the demise of public service in the UK.

    Greed is one, usually with a financial bias obviously with money at the core in order to fund whatever.

    The selling of the combined estates of Customs and the Revenue was and is a matter of National and International comment. This was hoodwinking on a massive scale.

    IT contracts, don't make me laugh.

    A total inability to accept one is wrong, remember Hartnett had to be made to apologise, eventually.

    The "revolving door" scenario that awards incompetance, failure and even law-breaking by transfer to other opportunities or even promotion and even newly created employment with what might be considered "the opposition".

    A total failure to get to grips with the global players tax shenanigan's or even downright criminal acts such as money laundering evidenced globally recently and involving UK "associated" banks.

    Hitting the crap out of the little people while negotiating the infamous "sweetheart" deals that appear to vapourise millions of penalty and interest amounts with the stroke of a pen and another glass of claret by some!

    What is the answer, I have not got the foggiest idea but if the recent events in Cyprus are anything to go by my assetts will be under the bed pretty soon and not in the friggin' thieving banks.

    Final thought, how about getting some managers in post that actually deliver instead of those wasters there at the moment? Given the right management it is still possible to get this thing turned around. Or is there a deeper reason behind it all, privatisation of the whole of the taxation system of the UK?

  5. Better idea would be to let it be privatised, its more than half way there anyway. It would ensure that the deadwood at all levels gets cleared out.

    Privatisation based on ethical business methodology and genuine public service is what is needed, along with value for money and total clarity in the procurement chain.

    Damn, just woke up, been dreamin' again.

  6. LOFL!

    PCS may as well shut up shop nw that HMRC is doing most of its work.

    Just seen an imposter called Lin Horner on the breakfast news claiming to be the head of HMRC.

    What an example of modern (Lean) management, nice cardigan though.

    Can't wait to see your post on this, the head of one of the government's "premier" departments, I am still wiping tears from my eyes, no wonder Birmingham & UKBA were so happy when she left.

    Stand by for a revolving door, should run a sweepstake on next landing pad for "Doh!".