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.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Enquiry Centres To Close

In January I wrote that the decision on the fate of HMRC's enquiry centres would be released on Wednesday 12 February at 1pm.

Yesterday HMRC did indeed announce their decision, all the 281 enquiry centres (employing 1,300 people) will close on 30 June 2013. As from then taxpayers will have to call HMRC to make an appointment to see a member of HMRC staff, in theory at a location that is convenient to the taxpayer (eg their own home).

There are, according to Lin Homer, three options for those who work in the centres:
"We have given our people three broad options to consider for their future.

One is to apply for one of the 450 jobs in the new service. Face-to-face staff have priority for these vacancies, which will be live at 3pm this afternoon on the Personal Tax intranet site.

They can also apply for a voluntary exit to leave HMRC on the best financial terms available.

Or, they can join the redeployment pool to maximise their chances of getting a new job within HMRC or in another government department."

PCS claims that there has been no consultation or negotiation wrt the decision. The union is considering balloting members regarding industrial action, all very well but that is rather akin to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

The full text of Lin Homer's statement to staff about the decision is reproduced below (provided courtesy of a loyal reader):
"Messages: Message from Lin Homer: the future of our Enquiry Centres

12 February 2014

As you may remember, I wrote to you last March about our proposals to pilot a new service in north east England offering targeted support to customers who need extra help to get their taxes and entitlements right.

I explained last year that, if the pilot was successful, it was likely this service would replace our Enquiry Centre network.

Our Enquiry Centres offer a fantastic service, to those who can reach them. But they are spread unevenly across the UK, the number of people using them continues to fall, and our research shows that the majority of customers who do use them don’t actually need to.

We know there are customers who really need extra help from us because of temporary or permanent difficulties they face. We want our service to them to be as accessible and effective as possible, as well as being affordable both for them and HMRC.

The service that we piloted last year is based on giving these customers specialist, more in-depth help over the phone, offering face-to-face appointments if needed. These appointments are carried out at a location that is convenient for them, even at their home if necessary. It is absolutely not about withdrawing from offering a local face-to-face service for those who need it.

As well as running and evaluating this pilot, we also carried out a public consultation on our plans for the new service, and gathered a huge amount of feedback from our customers, partners in the voluntary and community sector and our staff.

On the back of all of this, we have decided to roll out the new service nationally. The new service will launch on 31 May and, as a result, our network of Enquiry Centres will close to the public on 30 June this year.

Our people who currently work in face-to-face were told about this earlier today. I know that many will be upset and disappointed by this decision. I want to emphasise that this decision is about providing a more tailored service for customers who need extra help: it is no reflection on the work, passion and commitment of our face-to-face staff.

Our Enquiry Centre staff were told this news in face-to-face meetings with managers earlier today. They are being given all of the information and support we are able to provide, to help them to understand the implications of the announcement and the options that they now need to consider.

We have given our people three broad options to consider for their future. One is to apply for one of the 450 jobs in the new service. Face-to-face staff have priority for these vacancies, which will be live at 3pm this afternoon on the Personal Tax intranet site.

They can also apply for a voluntary exit to leave HMRC on the best financial terms available. Or, they can join the redeployment pool to maximise their chances of getting a new job within HMRC or in another government department.

You may remember that last year I wrote to you about how we were beginning to transform and reshape our Department. This saw us launch two voluntary exit schemes – one for people in 21 offices across the UK which did not feature in the medium to long-term plans of some, or all, of the lines of business based there, and one for Debt Management and Banking staff, including a number of our people at AA grade.

The closing date for people to accept or decline their voluntary exit offers was 31 January. Around half of those we offered exits to have accepted, and 1,040 people will be leaving us on 30 April. We are still working through the implications of what this means for the teams and offices involved. I appreciate this is a worrying time for those involved, and I will come back to you with a full update when this work is complete.

In the meantime, we have continued talking to our lines of business about what the changing nature of our work means for our staff – in particular, for those at AA-grade.

The AA-grade is a valuable one in HMRC, and we have no intention of removing it entirely from the organisation. But as our thinking on the way we deliver our services, including far greater digitisation, has developed, it has become clear that far less clerical work is available for people at this grade.

That’s why, since July 2012, we have promoted 1,883 AA people to AO grade, where needed to meet our Spending Review commitments, with another 1,000 still in the promotion pool.

Despite this, we still have too many AAs for the work currently available, and for the work we will be doing in the future.

We have now launched a second voluntary exit scheme for around 500 AAs. Most are based in Enforcement and Compliance, with small numbers in other lines of business, and, again, they have already been given this news in face-to-face briefings.

Both of these exit schemes are entirely voluntary: we are not making people redundant or forcing anyone to leave HMRC. We are giving people the opportunity to leave us on 31 July on the best financial terms available, if they want to.

We have published comprehensive Q&As about both our Enquiry Centre decision and the voluntary exit scheme for AAs today.

Affected people are also invited to join a series of dial-ins starting on Friday and with follow up dial-ins on specific options next week. You are more than welcome to raise questions at these dial-ins.

I know there’s a lot to take in, and I know that lots of you out there this afternoon will be feeling very uncertain. We are absolutely committed to giving you all you need to make an informed decision, and will support you whatever that decision is.

Thank you.

Lin Homer Chief Executive"
Views and comments welcome, I understand that HMRC's internal forum has some 52 pages of comments on the subject.

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  1. I'm surprised as a union member PCS are not not doing more for their members. The only email I read from them in the past month was about FTA members. The horrible thing about HMRC you hear rumors from other team members about what's going to happen. You're the last one to hear anything in that organisation. Hope my jobs safe, I'm already looking elsewhere. I don't feel secure in that organisation even I'm in the promotion pool there's no guarantee of an AO job.

  2. If the PCS members in HMRC have not yet worked out the facts about the relationship between their union "brass" and the bosses then their heads are further into their dark places than ever before. PCS maintained that its priority was to keep staff in jobs, and that appears to have taken priority over protecting staff being subject to law breaking by bosses for years in relation to bullying and H&S related issues.
    Well that approach has now paid dividends, and if you thought reported stress levels and ET cases were bad in HMRC then this latest round of cuts will only make things worse.
    What is not understood is the relationship between volume cuts at AA level but no apparent reduction pro-rata towards the top of the pyramid. The AA grade have been treated poorly from the days of the IR through the formation of HMRC. Trouble is, the "managers" have no spine or moral strength to stand up to those above and simply comply out of fear and greed.
    The PCS has failed for years to mount an effective campaign to protect jobs but are very efficient at spending members subscriptions on a new HQ in Central London! Typical of the old days, stuff you, I'm all right Jack approach so beloved of the extreme left wing!
    Feel sorry for struggling AA staff facing the prospect of redundancy or whatever Homer wants to call it. Wonder what the alternative for them is if they don't opt for 1 of the 3 "choices", will they be deemed to have made themselves redundant by not opting?

    1. The main aim for HMRC now is to cut low level staff. I've heard rumours quite a while ago even a year ago they wanting to get rid of the AA grade. The thing it's going to effect for those over 40 plus more who spent the best part of their lives there. We live in a job market where your competing against University levers who need a job.

      Unfortunately those on the top never go see any cuts there already increasing the amount of O bands and higher level staff there hiring. I wish they could get rid of some un-needed top level staff.

      I don't know why I ever joined the Union. I thought they would support their members a lot more. They get paid to work there but normally don't go out there way to help. Been a waste of the money I wouldn't be surprised if the PCS is a government run entity. Unions should be for the workers not belittling them for financial gain!

    2. I am an AA myself, and can believe all of this.

      A message was put on the HMRC stating that 'HMRC have no intention of phasing out the AA grade'.

      Now that I just DON'T believe. This recent announcement, as well as the November 2013 announcement to offer all AA grade staff in DMB vountary exit packages shows this really is the death knell of the grade not just in HMRC, but also the whole Civil Service.

      AA grade staff working in the DWP were also offered voluntary exit packages apparently.

  3. Imagine what the morale is going to be like now. They must want rid of the whole AA grade. In a few years they'll start working on the AOs.

    1. They've already started on the AO's. All PCS were worried about since Nov was the FTA's. stuff everyone else. thanks Pcs.

    2. Do you remember the last staff dial the first 45 minutes of the hour were all FTA's, FTA representatives or questions about FTA's.

      I hope the next staff dial in on Tuesday will not be dominated by FTA's and some proper questions can be asked about issues that affect the proper staff. If you are an FTA you know you were taken on for a fixed term hence the name if you wanted to be permanent you should have gone for a permanent job in the first place.

    3. I stand by that comment 100%. Pcs didn't give a crap about the AA's.

  4. Courtesy of Daily Mail p.14 yesterday...
    "The whole organisation is tick-box and process-obsessed to the point where it is impossible to mke common sense decisions."..."...has an inward-looking, top heavy staffing structure, with a culture dominated by the interest of its own beaurocrats rather than the needs of the public. More money seems to be spent on high staff salaries...lost work time from system abuses and excess numbers of managers/specialists..."."The obsession with diversity--such a feature of today's public sector--also runs through the organisation." "A bloated empire of officialdom"."Despite its enourmous resources itis failing to do its job because of misguided policies and poor leadership"."Like all too many quangos in modern Britain, it is unable to fulfill its essential duties beacause it is drowning in wasteful beaurocracy and fashionable dogma". "...prides itself on being an equal opportunities employer and it has been named in the top ten employers in Britain for LGBT people".

    Does this appear to have a familiar ring to it, does it possibly apply to HMRC?
    Actually the article it is drawn from, written by Leo McKinstry, is about the Environment Agency.

    Anyone spot any similarities or commonality of approach or purpose" here?

  5. To be honest this is all about control, at the moment there are 281 EC's with average 5 staff who are mostly covered by 2 or 3 managers per office doing there own thing, after NES starts this will become 35 locations with about 3 staff probably 1 manager per 5 locations.

    The Adviser (ESA) who you get through to on the telephone has to see the case through to it's conclusion in other words they can trace any taxpayer issue back to this one person.

    In other words they can control the ESA's and put pressure on them to sort the problem, make them do things just how the bosses want, and you can bet your life they will be questioned if they give someone a face to face appointment without a damn serious need.

    In all honesty this next process is just a stepping stone, the 35 locations will soon merge when they pressure the ESA's and get the face to face appointments down to barely any and it will end up with just anyone sat in HMRC going out to see someone when they need to.

    I know from personal experience people in their 90's who want a home visit being expected to come into an EC if they are able and not to give them a home visit unless they literally could not leave the house.

  6. It's now nearly 9 years since both departments were merged and this shit is still going on. Serious questions need to be raised about which individuals were responsible for its inception and how a cabal of incompetent managers in the following years failed to manage this department. How convenient of them to now shaft thousands of staff at AA grade simply because they have no need for therm anymore while sneaky senior mangers giggle in the corner. For thousands of staff and millions of taxpayers its been death by a thousand cuts.

  7. The staff dial in's could be interesting, the Face to Face ones start this morning and the main one with Homer on Tuesday. If they don't fiddle it by putting certain people online who won't argue with them.

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  8. There exists a theory that if you wanted to make it easier for organised crime to be even more profitable you should by any means endeavour to cause disruption or interference amongst the relatively smooth mechanisms of law and order.


    Well breaking asunder many years of experience and established administration of the likes of "border protection" and internal taxes would be a good start.

    Taking many of the most experienced LE staff from 3 of the top civilian departments and throwing them into a failed from the start "UK FBI" would be an additional method.

    You might, if cynical, awake or just plain conspiratorial believe that this has been a successful outcome when observing the resultant mess and ineffectiveness that now exists and not just in HMRC!

    Ah well, "halcyon daze"!

  9. Is there a huge amount of point in the AA grade any more? There are virtually no files, most of their jobs (Movements, EOY etc) are now computerised so apart from fetching and putting away files for compliance staff who still use them and perhaps post room duties, what else is there for them to do?

  10. There won't be much point in having any grade soon unless you are an inspector. Mark my words.

  11. HMRC managers start from the bottom rung of the ladder.Climbing up as they go along not on merit but sucking up, as yes man or woman.Managers are more like factory supervisors.They do not guide, or motivate staff as they themselves had not experienced leadership.They are only interested in surviving,thus not recognising talent and making use of the resources by communicating effectively.This was long time coming,no suprise,no skills.just a white wash..

  12. Laziest pigshit of a line manager on DMB including the band O's who yap all day. How about some voluntary exits for them. Somebody high up has told me the technical band O's in DMB will be next to be offered Voluntary Exits........and very soon

  13. I agree. Too many band O's were absorbed from other areas like compliance. Now DMB has too many and not enough work for them.

  14. I've heard that from someone very high up regarding getting rid of the technical band O's on DMB through Voluntary Exits soon.