Tuesday 28 October 2014

HMRC's Charter Annual Report

Loyal readers with long memories may recall that way back in November 2009 HMRC introduced a taxpayers' (HMRC uses the word "customers'") charter.

Moving forward to the present day, on 23 October HMRC published Your Charter Annual Report: April 2013 - March 2014 which analyses HMRC's performance against a series of KPI's.

In summary the Charter lays out rights and obligations:

Your rights — what you can expect from us:
• Respect you
• Help and support you to get things right
• Treat you as honest
• Treat you even-handedly
• Be professional and act with integrity
• Tackle people who deliberately break the rules and challenge those who bend the rules
• Protect your information and respect your privacy
• Accept that someone else can represent you
• Do all we can to keep the cost of dealing with us as low as possible.

Your obligations — what we expect from you:
• Be honest
• Respect our staff
• Take care to get things right

Lin Homer is quoted in the foreword:
"We achieved our best ever performance during 2013-14, exceeding tax and compliance revenues compared to the previous year, while continuing to improve customer service levels and make sustainable cost savings."
She seems very proud, yet further on in her foreword she says that HMRC answered 79% of "customer" calls.

Hardly an outstanding success rate is it?

Ian Young (ICAEW) and Chair of the Charter Advisory Committee then has his say in the document, and is less upbeat:
"..although the performance in five out of the eight rights has improved compared with the previous year, in four of these the scores remain below the equivalent scores from March 2011. This is a cause for concern and the committee will continue to probe the reasons for this and challenge HMRC over their plans for improvement. measures in a process which began in 2009."
He notes in particular that only 41% of agents feel that HMRC does all it can to keep the cost of dealing with it as low as possible, and only 48% of agents feels that HMRC treats them as honest.

I personally feel that the latter is particularly appalling, as it makes it all but impossible for agents to deal with HMRC other than in a defensive or confrontational way.

Young goes on to issue a "prayer" of hope:
"I hope that all the measures that HMRC are putting in place, which are set out in this report, will begin to make a real difference to the results of future surveys."
He doesn't sound very confident that this will come to pass!

Anyhoo, enjoy reading the document and feel free to comment.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Ignore the official crap, read between the lines from Ian Young, it makes for an interesting overview!
    HMRC fails to reach its own targets on call handling, and has no chance of hitting industry standards yet still sees in excess of 25% missed calls as something to crow about. Yes it's an improvement on the abysmal rates in 2010/11 but still a disgrace.
    Then, in the margin of p.10 '...RTI Programme winning...' FFS, what planet do the people making these awards come from?!
    Then there are the stats in the Appendix;
    referring to significant change,
    Of 25 arrows,
    6 show improvement,
    18 show no change,
    1 is worse,
    So, 20 pages of ?, to show that the majority of rights/groups/delivery of service have
    not improved. Yet Homer states "...continued to make good progress in delivering services for customers."
    I suppose it's all down to interpretation and how you view improvement really?

  2. Lin Homer refers to sustainable cost savings. That remains to be seen. As HMRC shrinks and staff are obliged to do their own jobs and fill in for those that have taken early retirement, got out in disgust, or been "invited" to hit the road, we shall see. Morale is rock bottom, and it will be interesting to see what the People Survey (an internal survey of staff) has to say about engagement, trust, morale, etc. The deadline for completion was last night. Since senior management complacently follows the line that everything improves all the time (and beware if each member of staff does not do the same) no doubt the results will be massaged to fit their view. As we head for another round of staff assessments where 10% MUST be marked as falling in the bottom category, morale is bound to sink further. Any positive results are a tribute to what HMRC can do despite its senior management.

  3. The customer is always right? The customer in the case of HMRC surveys or reports is, strangely enough, HMRC. Once that is understood, the psychology of survey structure and questions can be considered.
    Start with the result you want knowing your survey participants. For HMRC the participants will be most if not all the evangelista's of Lean, none or few of the downtrodden disenfranchised non-engaged, and a proportion of anti types.
    construct your questions accordingly and guarantee the outcome.
    Careful application of question structure and content will produce the required answer.
    Basic Internet research will reveal the methodology and volume of information to support the contentions stated above.
    "Accentuate the positives, ignore the negatives and don't bother with the in-betweens"

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Respect you - they don't know the first thing about respect. Reprehensible bollox.