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.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Hanging On The Telephone

Hanging On The Telephone
Those of you who enjoy talking to HMRC call centres will doubtless be filled with joy in your hearts to learn that HMRC want to conduct a telephone survey of tax agents and advisers.

Are your hearts filled with joy?


"Tax agents and advisers - will you help us with our telephone survey?

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) considers its relationship with tax agents and advisers to be vitally important.

We want to know more about our agent customers and their specific needs and behaviours. We are therefore investing in a programme of research over the next few months and will be asking some of you, as part of a representative sample of agents, if you would be willing to be involved in this work.

The research will involve a telephone discussion about the experiences you have had with us and how you felt about them. We'll share the findings with you once they're available (probably late 2008). As the research is designed to guide our future improvements we hope that, if approached, as many of you as possible will take the time to help us with this important project.

You represent a significant number of our customers and we value the contribution you make in helping us to deliver our services and design our processes – so
we really do want to know what you think

OK, off the top of my head, here are a few thoughts:

1 "Investing" is Gordon Brown speak for "spending money". Precisely how much is this survey going to cost the taxpayer?

2 Will it be conducted by a professional research agency, or in house amateurs?

3 Will the results really be published in their full and gory detail?

4 Will HMRC actually listen to what people tell them?

5 Publication of results "probably late 2008", why is HMRC unable to give a precise date? Survey results are relatively straightforward to collate and summarise, if they are managed by professionals.

6 Given that HMRC is in turmoil wrt its botched restructuring, and that basic procedures (eg opening letters, repaying overpaid tax etc) are grinding to a halt; is this the best use of HMRC's limited resources?

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment box, and make sure that you make your opinion known in this survey (if it ever happens).

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Do you really think that they will publish what people say? Of course not. It would be cheaper and more productive if they made this site available in the offices, then asked people to add their comments. HMRC is sufferring from the same problem another company I worked for suffed. It is top heavy with untrained managers. The best way to cut costs in any company is cut staf and that is what HMRC is trying to do. Yet the most productive way would be to cut managemet. For every one of them, you save two/three useful members of staff. While you're at it get in some trained managers. Someone who has learned how to praise, thank and reward hard work. Then maybe the demoralised 'coalface' workers wouldn't be looking for work elsewhere.

  2. I got the phone call before I got the letter. Someone with an unintelligible accent asked me if I wanted to complete a survey- so I said no.
    She asked why not, and I said it was of no interest to me!!

  3. I've largely managed to keep my thoughts to myself while reading through this blog. As an HMRC employee I have to admit that some of the content does ring true. For example, there is a massive problem with morale at the moment, which is hardly surprising given the 2.4% pay offer that has just been made. That the overall figure is significantly lower than inflation is - while very disappointing - at least understandable, but the way it has been structured is particularly worrying, and leaves the door open for further derisory pay deals in future years.

    Anyway, I digress. Much of the material on this blog is absolute nonsense, and I feel it's time some of this is pointed out. This one for example: an recurring theme of the blog is that HMRC is out of touch with the people it serves (I may comment on the appropriateness of using the word "customer" another time), surely you should welcome any attempt to get input.

    Taking your points one at a time:

    1) What can "investing" possibly mean other than spending money? Also see point 6, below.

    2) There is possibly some validity in this, if external advisors were used, I have little doubt that you moan about money being spent on consultancy fees.

    3 & 4) Fair questions.

    5) Err. You posted your comments in August. As you seem to have your finger pretty well on HMRC's pulse, I gather that you reacted pretty quickly and that the survey was being carried out at the same time. If we interpret "late" as quarter 4, that could be in as little as 6 weeks after your posting. Not bad for a job that is apparently complex enough to require the services of a "professional research agency".

    6) How is an organisation supposed to implement improvements without first finding out what needs to be improved?