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, 14 July 2009

Downward Trend

My thanks to Serious Cat for going to the trouble of looking up the results of previous HMRC staff surveys, and comparing the results (where possible) with the most recent one.

As can be seen, the trend has been in the downward direction. The question that springs to mind is why the CEO of HMRC expresses "huge disappointment" at this year's results, when the trend has been downward for quite some time?

Is she so really out of touch with how staff feel about HMRC?

Given this downward trend, what really can be done to reverse it; given that the government is broke, and that many of those "running" HMRC have been in situ during this period and are therefore presumably "responsible" for the lousy staff morale?

As Serious Cat says:

"This is the HMRC that Gordon Brown has created.

This will be his legacy

Serious Cat's comment:

"I present, for information purposes, a few figures selected from the last 6 staff surveys.

As previously stated, many of the questions/statements are different in each survey, but a handful are the same and capable of comparison.

(Please note, there were two staff surveys conducted in 2005, one in May and another in November.)

Statement 1: I am proud to work for HMRC

05/2005 - 43%
11/2005 - 40%
2006 - 36%
2007 - 39%
2008 - 33%
2009 - 25%
Down 18%

05/2005 - 36%
11/2005 - 36%
2006 - 34%
2007 - 38%
2008 - 36%
2009 - 38%
Up 2%

05/2005 - 21%
11/2005 - 24%
2006 - 30%
2007 - 23%
2008 - 31%
2009 - 37%
Up 16%

Statement 2: I would recommend HMRC as a good place to work


05/2005 - Question not asked
11/2005 - 37%
2006 - 28%
2007 - 30%
2008 - 25%
2009 - 17%
Down 20%

05/2005 - Question not asked
11/2005 - 28%
2006 - 25%
2007 - 26%
2008 - 24%
2009 - 31%
Up 3%

05/2005 - Question not asked
11/2005 - 36%
2006 - 46%
2007 - 44%
2008 - 50%
2009 - 52%
Up 16%

Statement 3: I think HMRC is well managed

05/2005 - 26%
11/2005 - 22%
2006 - 20%
2007 - 19%
2008 - 15%
2009 - 11%
Down 15%

05/2005 - 38%
11/2005 - 38%
2006 - 35%
2007 - 28%
2008 - 27%
2009 - 25%
Down 13%

05/2005 - 36%
11/2005 - 40%
2006 - 46%
2007 - 52%
2008 - 58%
2009 - 64%
Up 28%

I think these figures speak for themselves. In 2005, only a quarter of staff felt that HMRC was well managed. In just 4 years, that figure has dropped to a tenth. Nearly 90% of staff are unable to have confidence in HMRC's management.

Since the 2009 survey and its appalling results, what has the reaction of senior management been? Er, not much that I can see.

Despite these atrocious - nay, scandalous - figures, I actually have a small measure of sympathy for senior managers. They are faced with a department that simply doesn't have the budget to revolutionise itself and, thanks to Brown, Darling et al, that budget is being slashed year on year.

We are actually in the position whereby if a taxpayer e-mails us documentation in Word 2007 format, we can't read it. Why? Our version of Word is too old. Can we upgrade to 2007? No, there isn't enough money in our budget.

This is the HMRC that Gordon Brown has created.

This will be his legacy.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Hardly rocket science is it?

  2. If they can't afford to do anything about morale why bother doing surveys?

  3. "The question that springs to mind is why the CEO of HMRC expresses "huge disappointment" at this year's results, when the trend has been downward for quite some time?"

    Err...was she supposed to express huge pleasure that the trend has continued consistently? Perhaps you are confusing the word "disappointment" with the word "surprise".

    Anyway. I digress. While I have for some time been been very quick to point out when Ken's talking crap (as above, for example), I'm definately in agreement with the main point of this post. Serious Cat is quite right to say that the morale situation is scandalous! There are always going to be issues with staff morale when an organsation sheds a lot of jobs, - and there is some justification for headcount reduction, particularly following the merger, - but management really haven't dealt well with it. Given that they are actually reducing numbers almost solely through natural wastage, it's staggering how much bad feeling they've managed to create! There's no excuse for such a prolonged downward trend in these figures.

    There does seem to be an increasing command-and-control mentality, with skilled staff on the front line losing the authority to make decisions independently. I'm not going to start talking about jackboots, like some of the mutters who post here frequently seem to, but it is not a positive trend and I think it is certainly related to what we see in the survey numbers.

  4. "atrocious - nay, scandalous"

    So which is worse, a scandal or an atrocity? :-)

  5. I once worked for the greatest dru law enforcement organisation in the UK and probably the World. That cretin Brown has destroyed it and replaced it with a not fit for purpose Seriously Disorganised Crime Agency and an even worse to come UK Border Agency. Both run by the fit for nothing Home Office. The price of a rock of crack is now less than a pint and Heroin is the cheapest it has ever been.All the kids that die of overdoses and din drug related shootings all the people who get burgled or mugged by addicts you know who to blame

  6. Dear Anonymous at 15 July 2009 13:52

    It is unfair of you to denigrate people who have used the word “jackboots” as “mutters” – or did you mean “nutters”?

    I agree that the use of the word is now hackneyed and unimaginative, but your post indicates that you don’t seem to realise how seriously bad morale is on the ground.

    There is certainly concern about job losses, but the real reason for poor staff morale is the bullying and poorly thought out policies carried out by senior managers with no consideration for the well being of the staff or indeed of the department’s ability to do the job asked of it.

    I’ll give you some examples:

    1) There has been a widespread and painful programme of office closures and relocations where next to no serious consideration has been given to vastly increased travel times and expenses and where family, child care considerations and indeed basic health and safety have been trampled underfoot. Fair enough, we still have jobs, but there is more to life than just existing.

    2) Every single action that is performed during the day is measured, recorded and evaluated out of existence, all at the expense of actually doing the job. Officers are given no discretion to apply commonsense, no account is taken of experience or local knowledge and anyone who speaks up with positive suggestions is marked out as a trouble causer.

    3) The department has recently introduced a new tax penalty system which amounts to the most onerous, draconian and overly bureaucratic regime ever imposed by a UK tax authority. But guess what – the training provided has been skimpy and totally inadequate, was still being rolled out after the penalties had been introduced, and I still do not know of any colleagues who actually know how to issue one of the new penalties.

    When an employer introduces completely new ways of doing the job but provides totally inadequate training and harsh measures for getting it wrong, this strikes me as bullying.

    I could mention many more.

    So, I agree that “jackboots” is not perhaps the best word to use – after all, the department hasn’t invaded Poland or deliberately killed anyone to my knowledge – but please do not denigrate staff who are suffering under the most inept and uncaring senior management in the department’s history.

    Thank you,

    Mr Mutter.

  7. To join in with the other posters here: HM Customs and Excise might have had a few faults, but we were bloody good at what we did. We put criminals away, we recovered money for the treasury and we kept our borders a bloody sight more secure than today. Now we have an HMRC run by revenue wankers with no idea about crime, a Border Agency with no idea about crime and a Serious Organised Crime Agency who want to be MI6. If I sat down with Brown and Blair five years ago to discuss how to seriously fuck up investigation into the criminalisation of Britain, I would have recommended the steps thus far taken. Want to see your kids on crack? Form SOCA, only interested in lying about results and getting more money from Whitehall. Want to see your daughter harrassed and raped? Encourage the formation of the Border Agency, a fucking clueless bunch of wankers aboutimmigration. Want to see Britain's trade undermined? form HMRC, concentrating on petty crime.
    Sorry to be so bitter, but we once had a good system of crime control in the UK, this clueless bunch of Labour wankers has destroyed it. Oh and I pay taxes, don't get a "gold plated" pension and expect to get beaten up by people I am trying to arrest. Great being a comfy civil servant.

  8. Mr Mutter,

    First of all, thank you for pointing out my typo. I did indeed mean "nutters"! You seem, however, to have missed the point of my post. Perhaps your disapproval about my line on jackboots has blinded you to the rest of what I said, because the main thrust of what I was saying - i.e. that senior management is responsible for the dire morale situation - seems to me to be the same point as you are making!

    I wasn't saying that the need to shed jobs was an excuse for low morale, I was saying that, while job losses posed a difficulty, mismanagement was to blame. A pretty straightforward point, I thought!

    For example, LEAN, which seems to have led to increased instances of bullying management, was introduced in order to try to get more done with less after jobs were cut. An example of the changes being poorly managed!

    I'm sorry you feel that I am out of touch with feelings "on the ground". In my office, too, we spend too much time on spreadsheets, find decision-making taken out of our hands and live in fear of our office closing. It annoys the hell out of us and we complain constantly. However, irritating though spreadsheets can be, it really doesn't feel quite as bad as the Final Solution!

    I don't agree with your comments about the penalty regime, by the way. Perhaps you have an indirect tax background, in which case it represents a significant change from what came before, but it really doesn't seem to me to be much more than a re-working of the old direct tax penalty regime! If anything, I think some aspects of quantifying the penalty loading are less ambiguous. The training could have been better, perhaps, but training of that type can only ever be an overview of the manual. As long as staff are given a broad awarenesse, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to use the guidance to work out how get the job done. That's basically what a compliance officer's job is, anyway!

    The appeals system, on the other hand...