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.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Office Closures Official Announcement

Here is a copy of the official announcement by Lesley Strathie (CEO of HMRC) re the office closures. The text was retyped and sent to me by a loyal reader.

As at the time of writing, I still can't find it on the HMRC site.

"Today, we have informed our people in around 130 of our buildings that we plan to stopp all business activity, apart from any enquiry centre presence, in their office in 2010/11

These changes are part of our ongoing Workforce Change programme of rationalising our estate and enable us to introduce more efficient ways of working. The decision to withdraw from these locations was previously announced in our regional review programme.

Enquiry Centre service will continue in area where they are cuurently provided.

We have started to hold discussions with those people directly affected by these decision but I want to take this opportunity to keep evryone else informed about what is happening.

Currently , there are around 3.150 HMRC people working in 130 building. Approximately 1.450 people will move to a new location, or where appropriate work in the Enquiry Centre. This will happen as soon as possible after january 13.

The remaining 1,700 staff will be declared surplus and will be given the oppotunity, where approriate, to move to another HMRC office where vacancies exist. They will also be eligble to apply for voluntary redundancy on compulsory terms. These are the best available under the Civil Service Pension Scheme.

We are committed to doing everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible and for those who wish to continue their Civil Service careers, we will work hard to redeploy people both within HMRC as well as other government depts and agencies.

This committment is contained in the cabinets Office;s 'protocol for Handling Surplus Staff situations' as well as our own agreement with Departmental Trade Unions.

The reality is that we have to fundamentally reassess the way we deliver services to our customers. That means a reduced workforce concentrated in fewer locations.

These difficult decisions have not been taken lightly and are no reflection on the excellent work undertaken by people in the affected location. I appreciate that the length of the Regional Review Programmer has created a period of uncertainty and that is why we have now confimed the final position of these offices, enabling those affected to make informed decisions about their future.

We will do all we can to support colleagues through this diffcult process. That means we must be prepared to help colleagues move to new areas of work where vacancies arise. Thank you in anticiaption of your support.

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  1. Further proof that this department is well and truly shite! So much for being a 'caring' employer....

  2. This is a very sad day for HMRC staff and in this context the speling and punctuation in this memo is utterly disgraceful. The lady should be ashamed of herself. It sums up how much these people really care - not one jot.

  3. Our thoughts are with the staff affected by this and hope the future holds better prospects for them.

  4. "These changes... enable us to introduce more efficient ways of working"...

    Let's hope that also means getting rid of the management bullies and all their utterly useless spreadsheets that waste everyone's time. The department would be able to function so much more efficiently, and so much more cheaply, without these pathetic, feeble-minded idiots and their petty nitpicking gumming up the works!

  5. And this is the reason why the redundancy scheme was changed to the detriment of the staff.

    My thoughts are with those affected.

  6. To all those pathetic, feeble-minded idiots and your petty nitpicking gumming up the works out there... YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!

    I hope you feel thoroughly ashamed for the untold damage you have done to the department and to staff morale. You have abused your position of power for too long and should be disciplined for your incompetence.

  7. Come out from behind the spreadsheets and own up to the mess you have created. If you don't do so soon you might just find that some of your bullied staff will start naming names!

    My thoughts too are with the affected staff who, yet again, lose out to pay for your "performance" bonuses.

  8. My 5-year-old poodle's spelling and punctuation skills are more advanced than those of the half-wit that scribbled this announcement to staff.

    It really does sum up how much these people really care - not one jot!

  9. More evidence that HMRC is a Mickey Mouse outfit run on a shoestring budget.

  10. This is a tragic day for the long suffering staff of HMRC. Having suffered a brutal office closure and relocation myself, I can only give my best wishes to the staff concerned and hope that things work out better for them than it did for my colleagues and myself.

    To the recent contributor who asked for reassurance that HMRC senior management isn’t as bad as is often portrayed on this blog: all I can say is this, after reading this “announcement”, how much more proof do you need? We are talked down to and patronised like this every day of the week, whilst they carry on wrecking the department and pocketing their bonuses. To add insult to injury they can’t even be bothered to write such a momentous announcement in grammatical English or use the spell checker.

    It’s time for the entire senior management to be cleared out, root and branch, and the whole country will be better off for it.

  11. Re. the grammar. As an AA I had to sample post that was then monitored by Inland Rev people to ensure that the officers reply was not only sent on time but the correct grammar was used!!! So this statement, unofficial, an early draft or whatever beggars belief.
    The money these scumbags have spent in flying managers all around the country, fancy hotels, bringing in "advisors" to smooth the merger etc has been a farce. They should be brought before a committee.
    The future for a lot of people looks like an Enquiry Centre one where they real bullying goes on.

  12. This has got to be the darkest day in HMRC's ramshackled history.

    During the time I have been in HMRCS (formerly the IR side & not C&E) (nearly 7 years), I have seen first-hand experience of the department going from half-decent, then from bad to now what is an absolute car-crash pitiful excuse for a government department, where even 'management' aren't even capable of typing their own shoelaces.

    And what I think is sadder even still is that I don't it will end here either.

    We've already seen the introduction of LEAN that is run by (badly-programmed) robots to turn workers into robots by de-humanisation techniques, not to mention even stooping as low as putting CCTV cameras in the bogs at East Kilbride to 'maintain efficency'

    So what will be next then to piss us all off?

    Over to you Alastair Darling (or could that be George Osbourne in a few months time?)

    Maybe working at Tesco instead may not be such a bad idea after all, but I could still be wrong....

  13. I has been a terrible day in the office where I work. We have been told that our letters will be issued tomorrow and sent by first class post. These will tell us how much we will get. I wonder if someone at top shop had to prepare a business case for the first class franks!

    I notice that there is nothing on the BBC about it. I was only reading an article the other day saying that each HMRC employeee brings in 665,000. You would think that they would employ more of us, not get rid of

  14. So does this mean that, as an agent, who on average has to wait 3 months for a reply to his letters ( when they haven't been lost) that I have to wait even longer?

    R.I.P HMRC 13-1-2010

  15. I can’t help but feel compassion for the employees, also dread at how an appauling service will get worse with such “efficiency savings, but I can’t help but wonder whether HMRC employees are letting themselves be bullied. Why don’t they go on strike for a week or two to demand an independent efficiency review of the organisation and management, why don’t they leak damaging information, or name and shame persons responsible for a particular shambles? It seems that employees have the power to change things but don’t, and are therefore giving free rein to bullies, incompetents and the politically motivated yes men who are happy to destroy the organisation that is HMRC.

  16. "but I can’t help but wonder whether HMRC employees are letting themselves be bullied. Why don’t they go on strike for a week or two to demand an independent efficiency review of the organisation and management, why don’t they leak damaging information,"

    The last five staff surveys have highlighted the problem and the recent capability report picked up on the morale issue. The union should be looking into doing something about it and the cabinet office need to return peoples telephone calls and explain why they are producing reports but not actually acting on the findings. There is no need to leak anything as the relevant information is already publicly available.

  17. Mr Angry Onymous13 January 2010 at 18:30

    The strength of feeling on this blogsite from deeply upset HMRC staff bullied into submission by a greedy, self-serving and uncaring management is quite revealing and tells a lot more on "what life really is like in HMRC" than any official staff survey. Is your PCS trade union aware of this and are they actually doing anything about it, or are they just as bad as your managers in pocketing monthly subscriptions from members' salaries in order to line their own pockets? Why does the PCS website not have a blogsite or feedback facility to allow people to air their grievances or voice opinions?

  18. It's a sad day for HMRC. It won't stop with these office closures either. The enquiry offices are facing reduced opening times, with proposals to open some of them for only a couple of days a week. Management have made it clear that they are looking for staff reductions. Where is this fantastic service to the public that the top brass love to drone on about? We don't have one any more. Having been on the receiving end of an office closure, management really do not care. My colleagues and I were treated with indifference, arrogance, and a complete lack of regard for our feelings.

  19. Bullied and upset HMRC staff (or anyone else with relevant feedback)might wish to try:

  20. Yes... try:

    ...they promise a reply within 4 days.

  21. Interesting to note that your senior management's trade union, the FDA "The Union of Choice for Senior Managers and Professionals in Public Service", says absolutely sod all about the office closures!!!

    To my mind that speaks volumes about how much they care about the poor sods working at the coalface!

  22. Just to clarify I typed the Leslie Strathie piece quickly during my lunch hour and had no time to proof read it i hoped Ken would before he posted it.

    Just to say what a sad and disgraceful day this is there are staff who have spent 20 or 30 years as a career in the civil service from 17 yeard old who have basically been told take this money or we throw you out.

    This government has no shame and the sooner they are voted out the better.

    To have to watch my fellow colleagues in tears having just three weeks (Feb 8) to make a life changing decision when workforce change has been going on since 2006 is shameful.

    This government has destroyed the civil service.

  23. "Bullied and upset HMRC staff (or anyone else with relevant feedback)might wish to try:"

    So there would be a vote to pursue action, then the action would be called off at the last minute and then things would carry on the same as before.

  24. This government and its bullying agencies such as HMRC and CSA are about destroying peoples lives... and they care not a jot so long as they get all your money.

  25. To the last poster, if you had a bad experience with the Govt I apologise.

    I have been proud to work for HMRC for half my working life and have always tried to provide a quality public service, yes I am (for the moment !) a government debt collector, but I have only tried to collect what is owed and nothing more (and dont forget by the time I ring people have had "polite" requests to pay).

  26. I second the above - well said!

    I too used to be proud to work for the department and it did its honest best to provide a quality and fair service.

    But that was in the long gone days of HMC&E - I am thoroughly ashamed of the current corrupt abomination, but nevertheless I do my utmost to carry out my job with impartiality and fairness, and everyone I know does too.

    It's a crying shame that the department is being wrecked by the powers that be.

  27. "I do my utmost to carry out my job with impartiality and fairness, and everyone I know does too"

    As someone who deals with HMRC from time to time as a customer, I would agree with you on this. I have never had cause to complain. As the relative of someone who works for HMRC I see the results of the bullying and low morale at first hand. I myself have become fed up with dealing with the fall out and with luck they will soon be out of the firing line. Then details and names will start appearing and I will welcome any legal action taken against me.

  28. I used to be proud to work for HMRC, that feels like a long time ago.
    I'm still there but in a contact centre. We want to strike but we cant as the general public have no sympathy for us.
    I'm working at the moment under a guy who sits just a few feet away and has done for well over a month but who has still not introduced himself, but is barking bullying orders at us and expects us to respect and obey him. Its awful.

    I'm constantly questioned as to how often I go to the toilet, why I keep my phone on my desk, why I choose to eat at my desk, the list goes on. The tactics HMRC use within their CC's and beyond are appauling. They are breeding disrepect.

    I'd leave but to be perfectly honest the working hours and pay suit my young family, but beleive me as soon as my family are old enough I will be off.

  29. Record the guy, collate and publish via media, BBC, or just release to a political party who will use it to attack the government.

  30. My tip to the (other) anonymous posted who posted at 21:39 is very simple. You will thank me for this in the long term.


    Don't leave it until later. Leave now. The stress and aggrevation just ain't worth it, my friend.

  31. "The strength of feeling on this blogsite...tells a lot more on "what life really is like in HMRC" than any official staff survey"...

    I hope some of the senior management are reading today's posts on this blogsite and, if they have any decency, they might actually start to feel guilty for the shambolic mess they have created instead of being in denial. The unworkable and discredited New Penalties system is a case in point. Why not for once in your miserable lifetimes be honest and admit that you got it wrong? It might even prove that you are in actual fact "human" and worthy of respect!! Surely the penny has dropped by now in that flogging a dead horse simply will not work. The old system might not have been perfect, but at least it was largely workable.

  32. To all of you senior management twats out there... sad to say that your credibility has at last thoroughly evaporated and never to see the light of day again... strange but the terms "petard", and "hoist with one's own" spring to mind!!!

  33. "Why don’t they go on strike for a week or two to demand an independent efficiency review of the organisation and management"

    Low paid staff can't go on strike for a week or two without losing their homes. And what would be the point? You see the sort of comments you get from members of the public on here and the press would have a field day - pampered civil servants, gold plated pensions etc. From the departments point of view they save two weeks wages and don't have to do anything.

    PCS is only as effective as its members and the sad fact is that in past strikes a lot of offices (particularly in the south) had hardly anyone stay out.

    "Is your PCS trade union aware of this and are they actually doing anything about it"

    The department has the union by the b******s. Their subs are collected by the department from the wages. This saves the union a lot of time and money and keeps membership up. If someone had to come round collecting a lot of people wouldn't pay and it would be expensive to run. The dept doesn't have to do this and if the union is too disruptive they would simply pull the plug.

    Staff and unions have been shouting about the effects of lean and the "efficiency savings" for years but no one outside is interested. Then they complain when it takes months to get a reply or something is done badly.

  34. Come on HMRC staff let's start seeing some of the real dirt whistle blown. You owe them no loyalty. The Boards salaries are obscene - there are more of them doing less work. Their expenses claims read like a celebrity dinner cub. WTF does a tax man need to meet a business man "customer' at the Ivy (or similar)? What's wrong with the Boaed Room or other meeting places? They are the Civil Service equivalent of Marie Antoinette - letting you starve while they banquet. All the time letting their dining buddies in big business get away with murder. Come on one of you name a politician or senior civil servant who has evaded tax on an off-shore account I KNOW they are out there.
    A grade seven in HMRC told me about one very high level tax evader - that is law breaker blow the whistle!!!!

  35. How would it help the staff in this situation if they started publishing details of tax payers affairs?

  36. If they highlighted cases of terrible management and conduct then the government would be under pressure to change things.

  37. Re anonymous at 10.58 because the people who run the organisation are getting away with their bullying and vindictive behaviour and being paid massive salaries because this government is afraid to take them to task because it is itself mired in fraud. Why have HMRC not got involved in expenses? Why has no one in a position of authority been prosecuted for tax evasion, do you honestly think that no MPs or senior Civil Servants (particularly those high earners recruited from the private sector) have had off-shore bank accounts that they have not declared. You read severl times a day all the details of false benefit claims - they have no confidentiality but the powers that be do. They are all in one big self-serving club and one decent whisxtle blower could prove this.

  38. 10:58 Here.

    I am not saying the details should not be passed on but I assumed you meant make them public which I feel will not help in this situation.

    If the details are passed onto the police for example and the matter is still not dealt with then there is an argument for passing the details onto the press etc.

  39. I have to agree with Comment at 22.10 on 13th.
    Its not easy and we are in the middle of a recession with hundreds of thousands out of work but for the sake of your mental and physical health if you can some way manage it get out of it.
    A slow death by a thousand cuts is what HMRC has to offer. They will grind people down slowly.
    I dont think its a good thing for your future career prospects to be associated with such a department for any serious length of time either. Like 10/15 years with HMRC-Oh dear.
    Senior managers on huge salaries are hoping they will have retired or moved on by the time the whole thing collapses.
    Good luck to everyone. (Customs and Excise-they were the days)!!!

  40. No-one likes paying tax, that is a given, so most of us find it hard to really love the tax-man/woman/person, but ...

    Over my 44 year career I found both IR and C&E staff on the ground to be courteous and helpful (within the constraints of collecting the tax due). I still find them to be courteous and, dare I say, more intelligent than employees of some other arms of the state. Unfortunately they seem to no longer be allowed to be helpful in resolving questions.

    There are some good, but unappreciated, people in HMRC working in a culture that must be like - well I cannot think of anything boring enough.

    I know sympathy is not worth much, but it is all I can give and I do so wholeheartedly.

  41. As a former Customs and Excise VAT Officer now in the taken over(not merged) Department I have been apalled at the inefficiency of the ex Inland Revenue - they seem to be totaly process driven, bureaucratic in the extreme, very grade conscious ( in C and E it did not matter what grade you were - you all got stuck in and worked as a team),and extremely slow in doing things. What really annoys me is the number of highly paid Grade 7's and above whose contribution to the job of revenue collection is minimal - they have recently decreed that VAT Officers are only allowed to do 2 days visiting a week in order to engage in "cross tax cases" - but there are not enough of those cases to take on so people are sitting in offices with nothing to do - instead of getting out and identifying the extra revenue that the Exchequer needs desperately.
    The new penalties system is an Inland Revenue designed disaster.

  42. Old Codger 14 January 2010 16:12 is absolutely correct, as an ex C&E officer it has been a real eye opener for us since being forcibly taken over by the IR and being shoehorned into their miserable office. We are made to feel like square pegs in round holes and every attempt to bully us into submission has been made by the IR "managers" who have not got the first clue (nor care a jot) about us or our work. Our lazy, good-for-nothing new colleagues seem to be locked in perpetual Friday afternoon mode (doing as little as possible). There's no point in speaking up as the boss takes a blinkered approach every time and refuses point blank to see past the IR staff. It's a disgrace!

  43. Nice to know what are so called colleagues in C&E think of us thanks very much for the above comment(!) Lazy good for nothing??!! Nice to see we all stick together when the going gets rough. IR didnt not take over C&E Gordon Brown decided to merge us IR did not wake up one day and think we will do a hostile takeover of C&E blame Gordon Brown not IR

  44. steady on people, please don't let this thread become a slanging match between colleagues when we should be concentrating our attention on our common enemies who have caused this lamentable state of affairs!

    Like two of the previous correspondents I too am an ex C&E officer and have also found it difficult to adapt to the culture in what is essentially an IR building - but I don't blame this at all on my ex IR collegues, who I much respect as hard working, honest colleagues and who are going through the same prolems and stresses as me.

    Sure, there are some lazy, good for nothng ex IR officers around, but there are some lazy good for nothing ex C&E officers too - as there are no doubt plenty of lazy good for nothing accounants and traders, etc etc.

    I offer my apology to the last correspondent on behalf of ex C&E officers and say let's get on with the essential task of getting rid of the incompetent senior management!

  45. When I read the above 2 or 3 comments, I'm glad I left HMRC when I did. I'm not sure if I can understand all the down in the dump comments on this article.
    People were warned several years ago of the way it was gonna be in the future, but like Zombies people chose to ignore it and stick their heads in the sand.
    I know people who are in the offices to be closed, the same people I remember sticking their noses up at me and colleagues standing in a picket line in the freezing cold.
    Slap into them. They're probably crying their lamps out to the PCS now.
    As a former Customs officer, my lasting memory was the C&E mangers running like scared rabbits from the IR. Not one of them tried to protect staff or stand up for the working practices in place for years. A bunch of cowards most of them.

  46. And now the latest news of woe from here in HMRC is that this 'department' failed to answer 44 million calls and the National Audit Office (NAO) call it's unacceptable.

    Well, if that's deemed unacceptable, I don't what it will be after all these offices close!

  47. Regarding above- NAO urging HMRC to pick up the phone.
    The percentage rate will probably improve in 2010, because those people in the offices to be closed, a lot of them will be shoved into enquiry centres to start answering calls.

  48. It will be improved because the contact centres will bring in tighter call handling times and statistical manipulation to make the figures better. If you answer five calls from the same person in less than 3 rings and give them the wrong answer in less than 60 seconds the stats look good. Take 10 minutes to do it right first time you get jumped on by management.

    Most of the people who work in the offices to be closed are too far from existing contact centres to be moved to deal with calls and enquirey centres don't do phone calls.

  49. With regard to the poster at 13:41 today, I have my doubts, especially as the AA grade staff cannot work on the phones in the Contact Centres.

    That is an AO job at very minimum.

    There was a debacle back in 2006 when many staff working in processing (now 'Customers Operations') in the North West of England wre being told they were being compulsory transferred to a call centre at the Queens Dock in Liverpool.

    Needless to say, what a hare-brained fuck up that was, as many staff were outside RDT (Reasonable Daily Travel) of 1 hour (from where you live, NOT where you work), appealed & this (not so) grand plan was truly bollocked.

    At the same time, all the AA staff working in processing in these officers were declared pre-surplus (because they couldn't be transferred to work in the contact centres) and are still pre-surplus now, because 'management' at HMRC don't know what to do with them.

    All in the name of 'blue-sky' thinking. More like after a weekend in Amsterdam!

  50. As an ex-IR/HMRC employee I am saddened to hear of the office closures, especially as many of the towns affected are a long way to remaining offices, so may be outside of RDT and there are not many job alternatives out there at the moment.
    Regarding the comments about an IR takeover of C&E, from our perspective it was a C&E takeover of IR - Customer Service went out of the window and it was all about how much money we were bringing in by sending threatening letters to employers which were sent to the wrong employers (and even carers with a domestic PAYE scheme), which caused 100s of phone calls from employers and carers worried sick about something that wasn't an issue for them. The C&E manager put in overall command had no idea how we worked, didn't want to know how we worked, wasn't interested that we could offer the service that was being advertised - and the service was ran into the ground when we were all made pre-surplus. (Not the senior manager of course - although how can you continue to a senior manager if the team you lead is wound down? - Surely there should be less of them as well)

  51. Regarding the post at 21:26

    I am not sure who is supposed to have taken over who but whatever happened it was a complete cock up.

    Now my main point here is regarding the comment

    "Customer Service went out of the window and it was all about how much money we were bringing in"

    in the same post.

    From where I sit the main priority of HMRC is statistics, then, well there is no "then" because they never get past the stats.

    I appreciate that in general the public will not bne interested in any of these problems because it is "The Tax Man". However, eventiually the general public will realise that they are suffering as well because they are not getting the required service/support in their tax affairs. The problem is by the time the general public realise this HMRC will be so F****d up they will be stuffed as well.

  52. How does somebody go about recruiting ex HMRC Staff?

  53. You have all the qualities necessary to work for HMRC, absolutely no idea about anything. Try a newspaper or job centre advert.

    But why would you bother? You only need to look above to see that they can't spell, can't organise themselves, have little character or guts, they moan like old women rather than stand up for themselves. When being screwed from all sides they huff and puff but do nothing. HMRC's "house" is safe with those sheep.

  54. Another example of HMRC's so-called efficiency drive was the inception of Field Farce (sorry, Field Force) within DMB (AKA the old collector of taxes), whose spiralling travelling expenses to go out to collect debts are just as efficient as chucking 50 quid notes onto a bonfire.

    They gave their 'agents' shiny new cars (leased) and Blackberries, but have been unable to go to collect tax debts and are stuck in the office!

    Furthermore, a large number of AO grade 'agents' have been taken off Field Farce and moved back into DMB offices.

    Honestly, how could 'management' really think this was going to work?

    I can only see the tax gap getting evn more and more wider as a result.

  55. "How does somebody go about recruiting ex HMRC Staff?"

    Pop down to the job center and look for the people who look depressed but relieved.