Share this content

Is it a conflict of interest to allow civil servants to collect taxes?

Is it a conflict of interest to allow civil...

Civil servants have an incentive to increase central and local government taxes to save their own skins i.e.rendundancies/pay rises.

What do the 4M poblic sector workers do who are not in front line services?

Would we acually miss whole departments being closed?

Should we have an independent body which assesses the work/value of public sector departments?


Please login or register to join the discussion.

16th Aug 2012 07:28

What are the alternatives?

What are the alternatives to having HMRC act as Collector of Taxes?

Tax Farming - This has been tried before and since by farming out taxes to private companies, having them pay up-front a % value of the tax due and then going out and attempting to collect the full taxes. It was a major factor in the French Revolution as corrupt tax collectors tried to squeeze every penny out of the poor, while the rich were largely exempt.

Outsourcing - This is perhaps a more likely possibility as it is possible that a private outsourcing company such as Capita Business Systems (who operative TV Licensing on behalf of the BBC) might be able to collect taxes without the level of bureaucracy of the civil service. The downside here is that they would be primarily concerned with getting the money in rather than 'customer service', so it might be more like dealing with debt collectors than anything else.

As I've mentioned previously, I don't think it is primarily the fault of HMRC staff or even HMRC staffing levels. The problem is that the UK tax code has grown year-by-year in leaps and bounds and has been an uncontrollable monster for many years. Until the tax code is radically slimmed down (to at least 10% of its current size), then it will take a monolithic bureaucracy like HMRC to deal with it.

As for other departments, you could probably get rid of some of them at a stroke (for example the Department for Media and Sport) the problem is that only winners in such a move would by HM Treasury (as I doubt the savings would find their way back into your pocket) and the losers are the massed and unionised ranks of the civil service.

It would take someone with real political courage to do this and I see nothing but pygmies.

Thanks (3)
By cfield
to Ruddles
20th Aug 2012 18:25


frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

It would take someone with real political courage to do this and I see nothing but pygmies.

Pygmies are actually very brave people. It must take a lot of courage to venture out into the dense jungle with all those nasties when you're only 4 feet tall :-)

Thanks (1)
16th Aug 2012 07:28

I can't say about all workers, but council workers

Many council workers take the cake for idleness.

The waste on unnecessary tasks by local councils is unbelievable, while really useful services are cut back into non-existence.

We have had ongoing 'improvements' to the area near our office, and it is joke. Workers rest most of the day and take 'work' breaks, and then the numerous 'suits' come along to waste a few more hours looking at the 'work'. It's a complete joke!

Thanks (3)
16th Aug 2012 09:46


I am sure there must be a joke about how many council workers does it take to change a light bulb....


In their defence it seems that the amount of H&S etc they need to undertake hamstrings them.  And I fear that an independant body to check how  effective the revenue are is just adding a further layer of cost....probably provided by ex public sector management who get a 'generous' contract to manage ex colleagues, and then show some stats to support the!?  

Thanks (1)
16th Aug 2012 15:44

Can we have a public sector redundancy counter and each time there is a public sector redundancy we can dong "Ding Dongs" donger.


@Shirley---they are probably digging a hole so they can fill it in again! (Hope no undertakers are watching      !)

Thanks (1)
16th Aug 2012 16:05

What about the bias

The big thing that worries me about the public sector, especially HMRC and local councils, is the obvious bias against business.  It does seem that the public sector has a disproportionately high number of employees who are towards the left of the political spectrum and there's also the heavy union influence.  Time and time again, I've seen very heavy-handed enforcement against business that's completely out of proportion and nowhere near the level of enforcement against individuals or other private sector bodies for similar "offences".  It does seem that there's the prevailing opinion that all business owners are coining it in and there's a definite trend towards "kicking" the business at every opportunity.

Thanks (4)
20th Aug 2012 14:45

What about the bias

< It does seem that there's the prevailing opinion that all business owners are coining it in and there's a definite trend towards "kicking" the business at every opportunity.>

To me this appears to always have been the case and I have never been able to understand it. Local councils offer little or no support and are really hopeless at making decisions to a request (subcommittes of subcommittes of subcommittes - how else can  they make their copious expenses) and appear to make many obstacles for small businesses.  We paid into the council's "Town Centre Scheme" - what did we get in the year we were a member?  4 photographs of wanted local criminals.  Absolutely nothing else.  It was just another local tax.


As for council workmen.  An aquaintance was running his own carpentry business for some years from the council workshop where he was the foreman. He eventually got a handshake to leave early.  In the real world (as we used to say in the Revenue) he would have been sacked immediatel;y the bosses found out and not left to trade for years. I expect he did some handy work for the employees and council members.   I am sure this goes on in many councils.

As for County Council workers - ever played "count the worker" on roadworks?  The worst case was 20 workers and one working, the rest standing about yattering or smoking etc. Does help to pass the time on a long journey(:-).




Thanks (1)
20th Aug 2012 16:33


Note your comment but the real problem is that the majority of public servants have never worked in business.  I have maintanind for some time that all those in Treasury type functions and MPs should without notice receive his/her salry up to 4 weeks late.  Just as you have to when clients dont pay.  The sleepless nights that owners suffer are just not there for Public Servants but I am sure there would be a sea of change if my idea was put in to practice.  (no chance however)

It is howver the same worldwide for public servants.

Thanks (0)
20th Aug 2012 16:46

hmm...its just a shame that when they

decide that striking is the 'only' option, they (together with their leaders) take the anecdotal support they see (from friends, relatives and fellow workers) as being representative of the 'general public'.....

Thanks (0)