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 October 2016

HMRC Building Our Future - Mapeley

HMRC: Building our Future Plan


There are numerous mentions of our old friends at Mapeley and the significance of 2021.

Happy reading!
I suspect that the word “Mapeley” will come up in the course of this debate, so let me touch on it. I referred earlier to the more than 700 offices formerly used by HMRC. Mapeley Estates snapped up more than 130 of them for its offshore property portfolio after loading itself up with debt in order to front up its side of this rotten charade with the then Government: 84% of the funding that Mapeley obtained to acquire that lucrative contract came in the form of loans. That shabby deal with a shabby company comes to an end in 2021. For the privilege of renting publicly built offices sold off for a song, HMRC will have the right to occupy buildings, with leases based on market terms” after that date. That is very generous of Mapeley.

I commend the National Audit Office on its 2009 report on the deal. It is redolent with phrases such as, “the Department has not achieved value for money…The Department did not fully appreciate the risks… The Department has not had strong processes to monitor the overall cost of the contract and whether it is achieving value for money”.

The Exchequer Secretary admitted to this House last year that the end life of the Mapeley contracts represented a “one-off opportunity to make this change to the estate footprint.”—[Official Report, 24 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1300.]

That is part of the truth behind the closures—a private finance initiative deal worth billions from the public purse, used to enrich a Bermuda-domiciled corporate entity, with the public left with nothing at the end of 20 years, except the right to sign a commercial lease.

I will end with the words of a PCS member and HMRC employee, my constituent Bobby Young, who is chair of the PCS Revenue and Customs branch:

“Whilst my branch welcomes the news of a slight increase of jobs in Glasgow, we absolutely oppose it if it comes at the cost of jobs elsewhere. Communities from Bathgate to Bootle will be devastated by these closures—that is not a price worth paying for the sake of a few extra jobs in Glasgow.”
If anyone should know about prices, it is an employee of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Sadly, it seems that their superiors know very little about value.

I recently discovered that the ownership of the leases of HMRC offices—this has already been mentioned by my hon. Friend—was transferred to a company called Mapeley in 2001. You could not make this up, Mr Deputy Speaker. Where is Mapeley based? In the Bahamas. That is right: HMRC pays rent to a company registered in a tax haven. To quote the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, this Government have scored a “massive own goal”. Who stands to profit from the sales of HMRC local offices? You guessed it: Mapeley again. Why not use local council offices that may be available, and then any profits from the rents would go straight to the Treasury?

Perhaps the Minister will be able to answer some of our questions today, but I must emphasise that debates alone will not be enough. We need the people behind these proposals to come here to explain them directly to Parliament. That would allow Members to get stuck into the nuts and bolts and to get behind the management-speak and buzzwords that are too often passed off as answers. If that does not happen, staff and taxpayers will be left questioning whether HMRC is really “building our future”, as the glossy brochure states, or whether this is in fact a question of buildings forcing our future. It has already been pointed out that this is taking place in the context of the expiry of the extraordinary contracts that were entered into in 2001, when 600 or so properties were sold to the offshore company, Mapeley Steps, and then leased back, PFI-style, to HMRC. Those contracts expire in the years leading up to 2021. In the absence of answers to our questions, many will conclude that this is more about digging HMRC out of the hole that it jumped into in 2001, rather than being about any kind of strategy. That is the only conclusion open to us.

Well, Minister, it’s all a bit of mess, isn’t it? I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Chris Stephens) on securing the debate. He touched on staff morale, the workforce figures and the fact that there has been no ministerial statement. Along with several other hon. Members, he also mentioned the shameful Mapeley contract, signed—I am sad to say—by a Labour Government who did not realise at the time that it was an overseas company.

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  1. "It's all a bit of a mess, isn't it?". A bit, a bit?? As for staff morale well that's not a surprise. If HMRC's so-called management stopped wasteful spending on things like away days at football clubs, and instead used that PUBLIC MONEY for an independent investigator to rid the place of corrupt bullying then moral might improve. But first they would have to acknowledge the issue but I can't see that happening. They don't have much to hide, do they?

  2. HMRC apparently did not realise at the time Mapeley was an overseas company!! Do they realise what day of the week it is? If they can't even do basic due diligence on a long term contract how on earth can we trust them do anything competently such as collect tax.

  3. Wise words from PCS Union Rep Bobby Young. Unfortunately they don't have many, if any, in senior management with such wisdom hence the great mess HMRC is in.

  4. Who said;
    "HMRC fully recognises that its most valuable asset is its people."?

    David Gauke Fin Sec - same Hansard event!

    And this para closed the Hansard;
    "That this House has considered HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) plan Building our Future which will close most of its offices and make substantial staffing reductions; is concerned that this could seriously compromise the ability of HMRC to collect tax, enforce compliance and close the tax gap; believes the plan should have been subjected to parliamentary scrutiny; and calls on the Government to ensure that Building our Future is suspended until a comprehensive consultation and review has been undertaken."

    All the way to the top!

    1. If HMRC 'recognised' their most valuable asset is its people then it must follow that they would stamp out the bullying, which would horrify any decent member of the taxpaying public, and moreover they would put in processes that allow for natural justice? Instead they have a 'kangaroo court' where any manager can purse a course of bullying and then act as judge and jury, without any reference to the objective reality, and with made up or dodgy subjective 'evidence'. Some way to treat people.

  5. Would this be the same STEPS deal that was described in a 2004 NAO report as follows:
    a) The deal has delivered benefits and more are expected;
    b) The Departments got a good price;
    c) Good risk management will be essential.

    Amongst other shite. Accountability of the NAO, anyone?

    1. Is there a close relationship between HMRC's senior management and the NAO? Just thinking.

    2. Jail that total bell-end Nick Montagu as well. He knew perfectly well what was going down.

    3. Homer referred, on the record, to the head of the NAO as "Dear old Amyas"!
      That was at PAC in front of Hodge.
      Wiki background for "Dear old Amyas" is interesting.

    4. This all sounds far to dodgy to be true. What makes me sick is when certain private sector businesses run into trouble the left wing establishment, including the trade unions, are all over it like a rash and there's a terrible hue and cry out of all proportion. Now I am not suggesting they should not scrutinize such matters, but there has to a sense of balance because I also note that things go wrong in a publically funded institution like HMRC, be it wasteful spending on their estate to a tax avoiding company & numerous other poor contracts they signed up for; be it away days at Chelsea & Arsenal to the privileged senior 'leaders'; be it the bullying and cover-ups; be it lack of service to the public the noise is not amplified to anywhere the same level and I wonder why that might be?

  6. I have no doubt (and I mean NO doubt) as to the validity of the majority of criticisms raised against HMRC on this site. Problem is, very little as regards the perps being brought to book ever seems to happen.
    I was considering emailing all MPs, drawing their attention to this site, and asking why a full and forensic investigation of HMRC has not taken place. What do people feel? Any point?
    At the very least. they can't then say they are unaware of what's going on.

    1. It's a nice idea, but I feel that it's unlikely to make any real headway. The name of this site, the amount of effin' and jeffin' in many of the posts and the fact that most posts are published anonymously are all elements that can be written off as a small number of bitter crackpots venting their spleen without any real substance. What is actually required is some well-reasoned and evidenced whistle-blowing to the appropriate authorities - although we've seen before where that can land you...

    2. The problem with HMRC is its governance structure. The chairman once upon time likened tax to extortion, which is quite a bad start for a taxman, and following the departure CEO Lin Homer the chairman was given an executive role. Its not clear why HMRC required an Executive Chairman when they employ a handsomely rewarded CEO, but the affect of that change is that there is literally no independent. Ministers are unable to be involved in operational matters, as would happen in other Departments, due to taxpayer confidentiality. Whistleblowing is an appropriate route to raise concerns in the public interest but HMRC's history demonstrates that's not a safe option. A full and forensic investigation must take place, the accounts you hear of from various sources, including the union, suggests a serious problem. The decent majority would all agree that workplace bullying is always wrong and when all is said and done the rule of law must apply to all.

    3. I think you'll find most public sector organisations have a professional standards department whose job it is to ensure the integrity of that organisation. They investigate & regulate staff behaviour looking into allegations of corruption, bullying, misconduct etc. Given the number of accounts, are people really saying that HMRC does not have such a department? And if so what are they doing when all this stuff is going on?

    4. I can categorically state that a request to have alleged civil and criminal lawbreaking by managers investigated by "Internal Audit", "Professional Standards" was ignored, by the same managers that dealt with the grievances against their colleagues from the same "pot".
      It is a corrupt organisation.

  7. So the restructuring isn't a strategy at all - I thought it seemed a little too organised for HMRC. The truth is service to the public is being cut and staff (many experienced & skilled) are being made redundant across the UK, all to solve the estate problem in an apparently clueless attempt to rectify 15 years of waste. The Estate Tail is wagging the Operational Dog. What salary does the HMRC Chief Executive take?

  8. If we consider the history, constituent parts and total management bullshit we might just begin to understand;
    Matrix Churchill
    Gordon Brown
    Inland Revenue
    Toyota Lean/JIT principles (given the Toyota recall track record?)
    Common Purpose
    The Claret Jug
    Homers Odyssey (leaving a trail of incredulity in public sector admin?)
    Millons (billions?) of taxpayers or "customers" hard earned readies wasted
    etc. etc. etc.

  9. All this teeth gnashing at the Government bailing out banks, yet HMRC give away millions and no outcry.
    I wonder where the person is that signed off the Mapeley deal-perhaps sipping cocktails from their beach house in the West Indies? Procument in HMRC is a joke-I manage to get better deals for myself than HMRC can when buying thousands of units of whatever. It does not make sense.

    1. HMRC wasting taxpayers pounds??? I wish I could say I am surprised. Next I'll be reading that they have luxury away days at premier league football grounds when they have more than enough (empty) office space to hold such events, but that would just be ridiculous...

  10. In my Mapeley run HMRC office the heating is broken and is apparently not likely to be fixed this winter. The gents toilets have also overflowed onto the carpet in the corridor and the staff are treated each morning to the smell of stale urine. This is what you can routinely expect as your working conditions in this department. I personally would like to rub the faces of all those who agreed and promoted this contract into that piss soaked carpet.