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.

Monday, 1 August 2011

HMRC Put The F Into Failure

Well then, what a "giddy" world it is in HMRC!

For many years this site has been pointing out the inefficiencies and failures of HMRC, comments from staff and loyal readers show that the edifice that is HMRC is crumbling day by day.

Finally those with some alleged "control" over HMRC (ie the politicians) have woken up to the ongoing car crash that is HMRC.

On 30th July (a Saturday for some reason, surely not trying to hide the report were they?) the Treasury Select Committee published a report into the administration and effectiveness of HMRC.

Unsurprisingly it found that there is considerable dissatisfaction among the public and tax professionals with the service provided by the Department. The committee is concerned that if this continues it may undermine respect for the tax system.


Serious concerns were reported in a number of areas, all of which have featured many times on this site, including:

- Unacceptable difficulties contacting HMRC by phone during peak periods
- Endemic delays in responding to post
- An increasing focus on online communication that may exclude those without reliable internet access

"we do not accept the Department's explanation that these problems are primarily the result of reconciling of multiple PAYE tax years at once. There is a serious risk that if communicating with HMRC becomes too time-consuming, difficult and expensive, respect for the tax system, and with it voluntary compliance, may be undermined....

The National Insurance and PAYE Service should ultimately make PAYE work more effectively and ensure efficiencies across the Department. However, the problems resulting from its flawed implementation have done significant damage to the public perception of HMRC and the tax system more generally...

Implementing RTI before the system and its interface into HMRC have been properly tested could led to greater delays later on and further damage public confidence in the Department and the tax system. ...

HMRC operates under significant pressures. It has to implement increasingly complex tax legislation, sometimes developed without full account of the practical consequences, whilst undergoing restructuring, delivering substantial resource reductions and job cuts....

We received disturbing evidence of job cuts being made before the efficiencies that were intended to enable them had been delivered, and of a culture of command and control that disengages staff and prevents potential problems from being dealt with effectively. ...

Whilst staff remain dedicated to their work despite the pressures HMRC is under, they have little confidence in the leadership of the Department or that change will be for the better. This has been a long-running problem for the Department. Whilst senior management are very aware of the problem and have made efforts to improve engagement, there has been little evidence of any positive impact to date.

The committee made recommendations in the following areas:

- Improving the service provided by contact centres, particularly in relation to escalating complex queries and providing alternatives to 0845 numbers
- Providing robust alternative to online contact, including more cost-effective ways of providing face-to-face advice
- Ensuring greater awareness of the impact of process changes on individuals and businesses, in particular recommending senior staff spend time with tax practices, charities and businesses
- Ensuring reductions in resources are managed in a way that is commensurate with the enabling IT and process improvements and minimises the loss of Departmental tax expertise
- Reviewing the division of responsibilities between HMRC and HM Treasury in relation to making tax policy, to ensure practical considerations are taken into account at the earliest possible stage
- Better targeting of letters that threaten serious consequences against individuals
- Having the National Audit Office externally audit preparations for Real-time Information, to ensure Ministers can be held accountable for progress against the Government’s ambitious timetable
- Examining how the Department can achieve better accountability around the settlement of large tax cases

Loyal readers will find none of the above at all surprising. The only real surprise is that it has taken this long for someone to officially admit (albeit politicians passing the buck) that there is something wrong.

Oddly enough Dame Lesley Strathie is off on 3 months sick leave. Thus leaving the response/excuse to Clasper.

Here is what he said to the BBC:

"Stand back and look at the other side of the equation..., receipts £468 billion, £33 billion than more than the year before..." (BBC

All very nice, maybe. Except that there is one small fly in his oinkment.

In 2007-08 receipts were £461.6 billion (only £6.4 billion difference between this year and 2008). Receipts were in fact falling since 2007/08, and are only back now to where they were before.

Anyhoo, as noted many times on this site, the fundamental problems wrt HMRC stem from a.o.:

- insufficient resources of the right quality in the right place
- a botched merger
- lousy management (appointed by management)
- an absurdly complex tax system etc etc.

All of the above issues are in the remit of the politicians, until the politicians get their act together and admit responsibility this mess will never be sorted out. Unfortunately the politicians will not do this, and will continue to pass the buck.

Things will only get worse!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Its hard to beleive that after 5 or 6 years of that botched merger that an official report is released on the mess that people inside and out have a had to deal with.
    The numptiness, the muppets who overcomplicated the system in order to get themselves advanced. The nastiness, the eyeballing and now as a Telegraph reader pointed out-When did Frank Spencer take charge of HMRC when they ran out of paper just like very soon when they run out of another 10,000 staff.

    Will it be another 5 or 6 years before anything is done about it.
    Do turkeys vote for Christmas?

  2. I had no idea that letters to my MP, Gauke, Mudie and Strathie would have such immediate results in the press!!

    I am certain that this is what forced the 'tipping point' to galvanise the press and the select Treasury Commitee into action......

    Strathie's sick leave seems a tad 'convenient' though?

  3. Those loyal readers will know that WE all know it isn't the fault of the poor (apart from reduncancy packages and pensions) worker at the 'coalface' but the system that is at fault, a system at the behest of politicians. Yet for once the full report is worth reading and can be found at

    The Treasury Select Committee Report also stated –

    "The evidence we received was very clear that this was passing costs onto taxpayers."

    "From the perspective of unrepresented taxpayers on low and modest incomes, HMRC is now too often seen as an organisation that is unable to collect the right amount of tax, increasingly difficult to contact by phone, letter or in person, yet unforgiving of customer error and relentless in its pursuit of small debts."

    Whatever happened to the 25 million personal records HMRC lost in 2007? (Poynter Review). A time bomb waiting to explode?

  4. What the Report failed to identify is the stress, anxiety, distress and cost to the taxpayer in dealing with HMRC... and those costs passed on to the NHS.

    Will HMRC be held to account over the delays in responding to letters? An apology is sufficient. Sorry.

    Will penalties, created by HMRC delays be reduced because of HMRC incompetence... I think not? Sorry.

    Will threatening letters be continued to be sent out... you bet. Sorry.

    Will the private collection agencies continue to be used... you bet. Sorry.


    Apology NOT accepted... least of all when its YOUR (HMRC) fault.

  5. 1 August 2011 12:21

    That gave me a chuckle, spot on.

    Will a HMRC apology become an annual event like the Queens speech on Christmas day?

    You bet.

  6. "Will a HMRC apology become an annual event like the Queens speech on Christmas day?"

    Does that mean we are owed a few apologies already? can we charge interest?

  7. Perhaps it is about time we accept Cameron may be right with his desire to privatise elements of the Civil Service. Does it really matter that call centres will be in India, all Debt Collection is privatised, wages are slashed (better a poorly paid job than none at all surely?), new staff drafted in by Manpower with short term contracts with no pension rights etc. What could be worse than the mess we are in?
    There would bound to be some winners, obvioulsy, several members of ExCom would be recruited on triple their current salary because of their inside knowledge (after they have taken enhanced early retirement obviously!), the private equity investors would cream off billions and put them in their offshore trusts so they and their families can then live like Kings of the World for generations to come. Sure the ordinary working classes see piss poor pay, low pensions, lowering life expectation, soon to be followed by higher taxes and high inflation but that's because they are better than us and it's a price worth paying isn't it Ken?

  8. Perhaps if everyone who has had dealings with HMRC made a formal complaint, HMRC and the politicians might get the message.


    (and those that don't have a complaint, anybody? could always write a letter of thanks).


  10. So even though the muppets are once again shown up for what they are - what has or is going to change?
    Absolutely nothing..
    What does it take before the bullshitting baffoons are sacked & HMRC brought back from the brink..
    I like, im sure thousands more have just give up trying with them..

  11. I don't wish to add to the gloom, doom and despondancy but here goes:-

    Anyone remember Bernadette Kenny? She was an employee of HMRC and got a lump sum of £151,480 plus an annual payment of £50,493 an overall package of £447,000 - and for what?!
    HMRC paid a further £18,603,327 to staff made redundant last year. (Daily Telegraph - today).
    My calculator says that is an average of £35,233 so I guess there were not that many below HO in that figure?

    A previous poster alludes to the costs to the taxpayers for the stress, anxiety and distress costs created by dealing with HMRC.
    What about the damage to the workforce, including managers created by trying to cope with this mess - I bet it runs into the millions, and who pays?
    Everyone that is a taxpayer, including the staff.
    Now, if that's efficient use of taxpayers money I stand corrected.

    It is about time this was sorted out once and for all.

  12. "Whilst staff remain dedicated to their work despite the pressures HMRC is under, they have little confidence in the leadership of the Department or that change will be for the better."

    Will that put a stop to the two-pot screamers who infest this site shouting about how everyone who works in HMRC is useless and that they (whoever 'they' are) should "sack the lot!!!!"

    No, thought not.

    Anonymous @17:22

    Before you even mentioned CIS I had you down as a subbie. The Caps Lock key is on the left-hand side of your keyboard. Oh, and even on the internet, punctuation is not an optional extra.

  13. What annoyed me as a front line VAT assurance officer was Mike Glasper popping up in the media - having been the invisible man for ages - as the spokesperson for HMRC. Apparently he is going to be standing in for Dame Leslie while she is away - so will he be doing more than his 3 days and how much more is he going to get paid for it ?

  14. one good thing is Strathie will of course be immediately dismissed upon her return from sick leave as she will have exceeded every trigger point,several times over, within the new attendance management policy.

  15. @19.01 and others:

    It is rumoured that Strathie isn't actually on sick leave. To the best of my knowledge her communique only stated that she would be "away from the office" for three months - "sick leave" wasn't mentioned as far as I can remember.

    It seems convenient to me that she is moved aside just a matter of days before this damning report comes out. I bet she is on gardening leave (aka got the sack) and won't be coming back. We can only hope!

  16. Strathie IS on sick leave - she's having an operation.

  17. Strathie is having an @rsehole transplant, however the @rsehole has rejected her.

    Bernadette Kenny, director-general for personal tax at HMRC, was given a package worth £447,000, but a month later was hired as head of the Church of England Pensions Board, with a six-figure salary.

    So thats all right then.

  18. Here is the said Ms Kenny

    Will she be introducing cuts for our gold plated clergy pensions.

  19. You couldnt make this up...from 2008:

    New CEO at helm for HMRC
    The prime minister has approved the appointment of HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) new chief executive, it was announced today.

    Both chancellor Alistair Darling and the current chairman of the department, Mike Clasper, have welcomed Lesley Strathie, who will begin her work at the start of next month.

    Presently the head of JobCentre Plus and second permanent secretary with the Department of Work and Pensions, Ms Strathie was praised by the chancellor for her experience in delivering customer services.

    Mr Clasper commented on Ms Strathie's appointment: "She is an inspirational leader and has an excellent track record for good management and effective delivery."

    Ms Strathie added that she was determined to provide an even better service for all customers of the department.


  20. Perhaps HMRC would fare better if management stopped switchin work loads/streams every two minutes. We could possibly have some 'training' on the work we are dealing with - not just a few generic instructions and one floor walker to over twenty or thirty people. No one knows what they are doing at all and we could be doing irreperable damage to peoples accounts. For any one to take notice of you in HMRC, you have to either be pretty or pretend to be all 'positive' and 'up for anything' - no matter how ridiculous it is!!!

  21. Gosh, you guys at HMRC must have been busy today, clearly and quite rightly not allowed access to the internet at work, all hell breaks loose after 17.30.


    and demonising Dame Lesly (sick leave) without knowing the facts appears to be symptomatic of HMRC... blame, bailiffs, their 'customers' fault. Sounds familiar.

    HMRC – incapable of ascertaing the facts.

    Sorry I must remember that excuse of not opening the mail for 3 months (and the rest)... how the fcuk does that work?

    Sorry they are a clothing chain.

    Another apology...

  22. I seem to remember the Job Centre and DWP went through a bout of severe job cuts, closures and cost reductions with loads of work outsourced to the private sector.
    And then there is HMRC!
    Is there a common denominator?
    Answers on a pinhead please.

  23. @21.28

    Incapable of askerttaing the whereabouts of a dictionary.......

  24. Wotsa dickshunry?