Monday 13 October 2014

Stephen Hardwick Lashes Out At The Telegraph

Last week a loyal reader noted that Simon Bowles (CFO of HMRC) was leaving HMRC.

The Telegraph, after I tweeted their City Diary Editor Harriet Dennys the article, duly mentioned it on Sunday and went on to imply that his departure was linked to the 5 million clusterfuck.

Enter Stephen Hardwick (HMRC's Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs - who was initially appointed only on a temporary basis in 2011), who penned a pithy response in the comments section; and I quote:
"I'm the Comms Director at HMRC. Let me separate fact from insinuation.
First, as we told Harriet Dennys, our Finance Chief informed our CEO a long time ago that he had decided to leave on his sixth anniversary, but we only announced it this week because that's when his six months' notice begins. Simple, really.

Second, he's a permanent senior civil servant. He's not on a contract, so the "not seeking to renew his contract for another three-year stint" is tosh. He could stay as long as he likes.

Third, the alleged "botched 5.5 million payments", as Harriet knows full well, is the process that the PAYE system has gone through for the last 60 years, when any discrepancies between what tax has been paid by employees and what they owe are sorted out. This usually occurs because someone has changed jobs, had a pay rise, got a benefit or something which hasn't been notified to HMRC during the year. With Real Time Information, the size of these discrepancies will reduce - provided we get the right information from employers - but there's always likely to be the need to reconcile people's tax accounts at the end of the year. Oh, and our latest best estimate is 18-20,000 incorrect notices were sent out in September, not 100,000. And none of this operational stuff comes under the Chief Finance Officer.

Finally, HMRC brought in record revenues last year - £506 billion - to pay for our nation's public services, so however much we might make mistakes from time to time (no organisation is infallible), we're doing very well at the core job. And we achieved this while keeping within a shrinking budget. This budget stuff is what our Finance Chief is responsible for and he has done it brilliantly for the past five and a half years. He will be sorely missed when he goes."
Hardwick learned his trade as a journalist and political adviser to the deputy head of the Labour Party, so the word "tosh" and firing from the hip comes naturally.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. The true bullying reality! Hard man Hardwick will be kecking himself about this outburst.

  2. "...focusing on engaging people within the department...priority giving as much to internal communications and supporting staff engagement as I do to supporting the external work. .."
    All this and more from someone that was there for BAA (lobbyist), Prescott, lobby group Freedom to Fly and The Altitude Consultancy (areas of interest include alcohol
    policy, excise duty, corporate taxation, alcohol production and retail, government,
    parliament, climate change,) No potential for conflict there then?
    Me thought he doth protest too much, but see zoominfo entry and links and you might to.

  3. Ooh !!! Sounds like a raw nerve has been touched somewhere!

  4. I love the bit "so however much we might make mistakes from time to time (no organisation is infallible)".

    Would that be all day, every day?

  5. Yep, more spin than the Met's skid pan!