HMRC staff appraisal system sparks concerns

As HMRC workers hold rolling strikes against job cuts and pension changes, their bosses have introduced a new and potentially controversial job appraisal system. Nick Huber reports.

Under the new system, which started in April, workers’ performance will be given three “ratings”. Around 20% of workers will be told that they have exceeded expectations; 70% that they have met expectations and 10% that they “must improve.”

Other Whitehall departments are introducing similar appraisal systems.

“For those jobholders receiving a 'must improve' rating it means that they have not met performance expectations and will be offered development and support to help them improve,” HMRC told AccountingWEB in a statement. “It is not a disciplinary matter, or a pre-cursor to disciplinary proceedings, nor is it the same as being a formal poor performer.”

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frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Typical civil service mentality...    1 thanks

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

Perhaps the only way to fix this broken system is to privatise tax collection so that unionised idiocies such as those involving the PCS and bureaucratic idiocies can be removed.

Equally, thanks to the badly handled merger between IR and HMC&E which created this monstrosity, the vast majority of experienced tax specialists are now outside HMRC, having been made redundant or given early retirement.

They know the current culture and its failings well enough to refuse to return to HMRC, but they might work for a privatized agency. Nothing that HMRC does is so different or specialised that it couldn't be undertaken by a 3rd party.

HR bureaucracy

Ian Bee | | Permalink

We have seen it in the private sector for years that these appraisal systems can be so time consuming that they take senior staff away from doing the job they employed to do. Thankfully I am now well out of it but I found that a system that involves some sort of grading soon turns out to be a job creation scheme for the HR department

In any event, if you know in advance that 20% will exceed expectations, doesn't that mean that your expectations are too low?

Resulting public sector pension impact & run-off ....    11 thanks

JC | | Permalink

Pensions are the real issue with the public sector. Especially as 'final salary' are now total out of step with what is on offer in the private sector; resulting in a two tier system of pension apartheid. Whereby private sector workers don’t have adequate pensions for their own needs whilst at the same time underwriting (paying for) those of the public service

Unless these public sector pensions are brought under control the long term drain (& current) on the economy will be immense and will have a significant impact on future generations

So what is the solution ?

How about closing all public sector ‘final salary’ pensions to new entrants with immediate in line with the majority of private sector employers - to place everyone on the same footing?

Those public sector workers with existing pensions would not be affected (only new entrants) and this approach would cap future un-quantified public sector liabilities by the state and in due course (50 years) run-off the ‘final salary’ drain on the state

All the current bleating about ‘triple lock’ for pensioners & withdrawing winter fuel allowance etc. pales into insignificance compared with the massive hit on the state by final salary public sector pensions; although for some reason the public sector seems inviolate and no-one wants to address this area – WHY NOT?

Don’t forget that the knock-on effect of giving the public sector a pay rise today (apart from the fact that in a number of areas they are better off that the private sector) – is that each pay-rise pound today incurs a future liability for our children in terms of pension liability – this is the real issue – so why has nobody woken up to this and sorted it out?

GET RID OF THIS TWO TIER SYSTEM IMMEDIATELY AND PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS

I feel sory for....    7 thanks

Trevor Scott | | Permalink

....the staff at ground level who have to put up with ever more nonsense. The management are the real problem. They don't have the skills to manage and, usually, lack the personal qualities to be managers. The management mirror politicians.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

How can you ...    1 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... pre-determine what %age will get each mark?

Surely if 100% must improve, then 100% should get that mark otherwise the criteria is useless.

It is akin to saying that poverty is defined as being those with the bottom 25% of income and therefore 25% of people are impoverished - absolute meaningless twaddle. It needs to be bench marked to a fixed expectation, not in relation to other peoples performance.

If 90% of HMRC are meeting or exceeding expectations then the bar is set very very very low (or I only ever get to deal with the bottom 10%!).

Twaddle    9 thanks

MuDu | | Permalink

frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

Perhaps the only way to fix this broken system is to privatise tax collection so that unionised idiocies such as those involving the PCS and bureaucratic idiocies can be removed.

Equally, thanks to the badly handled merger between IR and HMC&E which created this monstrosity, the vast majority of experienced tax specialists are now outside HMRC, having been made redundant or given early retirement.

They know the current culture and its failings well enough to refuse to return to HMRC, but they might work for a privatized agency. Nothing that HMRC does is so different or specialised that it couldn't be undertaken by a 3rd party.

 

Whilst I agree with the comment regarding the merger, the idea that private tax collection could even be considered as an option is quite possibly ridiculous comment I have ever read on this site.

I am concerned about this 20%    1 thanks

BIG G | | Permalink

I am concerned about this 20% excellence, 70% mediocrity and 10% rubbish allocation. How can we be sure that the percentages are correct? Is this a paper filling exercise and is this all pure nonsense?

 

thought collection had been partly outsourced    5 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Collection has been partly outsourced.

The point is HMRC is full of completely useless individuals who under perform as standard.

The investigations are ill directed and poorly performed by people who know nothing about tax and much less have any enthusiasm for the subject.

The call centres are just an excuse to keep the unemployable busy.

You cannot get a sensible reply to any points in a letter.

They fail to assess huge amounts of missing tax that is quite obvious from what is filed with them.

an appraisal for the sake of an appraisal lot of good that is going to do.

If you don't want to outsource HMRC should subcontract investigating accountants who can help train the next generation of in house inspectors that might actually understand accounts and tax and be able to see where it was all disappearing rather than noticing the phone had been ringing and hong kong phooey hadn't answered it.

Perhaps they can't be saved!

An Appraisal of HMRC's Performance

kenatnam | | Permalink

When I worked on a production line in the 90's the next big thing was performance measurement and we started measuring everything, team was pitted against team and eventually the cleverer ones worked out how to come top of the performance charts. Unfortunately while all this introspective shilly shallying was going on our product quality slipped ( we ere spending more time measuring than ensuring quality) and our competitors gained market share because our unhappy customers went to them. Once it was realised that the customer is more important than internal measurement the performance charts were thrown on the scrapheap!

 

HMRC have never asked me how they did, so how can they know how they are doing? They may think that the Government are their customers, but I have news for them, we are!

 

Sage, on the other hand invariably send me a questionnaire after each contact - that is what turns mediocre into world class, and if HMRC are not striving to be world class then I suggest as a tax payer that the management is sacked en-masse and some world class management from industry appointed in their place.

 

Just a thought....

coolmanwithbeard's picture

appraisal

coolmanwithbeard | | Permalink

HMRC appraisal has been rubbish for years, when I worked there we had a 5 box system where 3 was satisfactory I never knew anyone getting 4 or 5 as it was "too much hassle" and "no one is good enough for a box one". This was one of my bosses after she had come back from appraisal training!! It's a poor do when you have to advise your boss that if you don't get what you expect (in my case a box one) she would learn the meaning of too much hassle.

When they brought in performance related pay it got worse as people who were 3/4 (but got 3) suddenly thought they were entitled to better to improve their pay.

 

I had one colleague whose husband worked for BT when it was privatised. The new management went through all the staff - her husband was told he had been over promoted (a way to get rid of people) and he would be going down a couple of grades.

Now I'm self employed my clients do the appraisal - as they stay and pay my bills I must be doing something right!!

HMRC staff appraisals    4 thanks

Phill Morgan | | Permalink

Tell me something new!!  This system was being used in HMRC for at least the last 5 years and possibly for a lot longer before that.  I am glad that I am out of the 'firm' and retired.  I feel sorry for the staff still left there who want to do a good job and they genuinely mean to; but they are bogged down with useless red tape and a hierarchy who have no concept of the real world or the job that is trying to be done.

Now that HMRC has become virtually faceless it is like trying to push water uphill - poor s*ds left on the ground trying to pick up the pieces.

Nick Graves's picture

Nothing that sensible could happen    2 thanks

Nick Graves | | Permalink

JC wrote:

Pensions are the real issue with the public sector. Especially as 'final salary' are now total out of step with what is on offer in the private sector; resulting in a two tier system of pension apartheid. Whereby private sector workers don’t have adequate pensions for their own needs whilst at the same time underwriting (paying for) those of the public service

Unless these public sector pensions are brought under control the long term drain (& current) on the economy will be immense and will have a significant impact on future generations

So what is the solution ?

How about closing all public sector ‘final salary’ pensions to new entrants with immediate in line with the majority of private sector employers - to place everyone on the same footing?

Those public sector workers with existing pensions would not be affected (only new entrants) and this approach would cap future un-quantified public sector liabilities by the state and in due course (50 years) run-off the ‘final salary’ drain on the state

All the current bleating about ‘triple lock’ for pensioners & withdrawing winter fuel allowance etc. pales into insignificance compared with the massive hit on the state by final salary public sector pensions; although for some reason the public sector seems inviolate and no-one wants to address this area – WHY NOT?

Don’t forget that the knock-on effect of giving the public sector a pay rise today (apart from the fact that in a number of areas they are better off that the private sector) – is that each pay-rise pound today incurs a future liability for our children in terms of pension liability – this is the real issue – so why has nobody woken up to this and sorted it out?

GET RID OF THIS TWO TIER SYSTEM IMMEDIATELY AND PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS

...because the overlords/polyingticiunts also have ridiculously generous pension provisions once they have either been voted in or risen to level of maximum incompetence (depending which side of the Civil Service they are) and to cut the entitlement for the lower orders would expose them to charges of hypocrisy.

They will continue to drive the current system to destruction, I'm afraid.

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

There is another way,    3 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

and this is not just throwing a spanner in the works.

Leave the donkey work to us. Meaning trust us HMRC. Then all HMRC has to do is investigate and collect. That way, in a few years, HMRC will become a lot more efficient as they would only have to concentrate on checking us instead of trying to implement systems that they heven't a clue about.

Of course there will be teething problems but if it all goes tits up we have only ourselves to blame.

mydoghasfleas's picture

Start at the top

mydoghasfleas | | Permalink

Whilst I am not a great Apprentice fan, I do like the final stages where AMS's attack dogs work the survivors over. 

Perhaps another Tsar (the Appraisal Tsar) whose team could work on those at the top and filter out the top level and upper managements that roll out a new plan every few years once they realise how useless their previous plan was.

Appraisals    1 thanks

wyoming | | Permalink

Appraising staff performance at junior levels and among trainees is important as it helps to set out mileposts achieved/not achieved and to identify the areas in which support and/or more training may be needed.

At more senior levels, however, it is often no more than a box-ticking exercise and a waste of time. I'm sure this will also be true in HMRC. My firm used to hold appraisals in November/December ahead of January salary reviews. As I work in Self Assessment this was at my busiest time so I could never really engage with the process. At least they learned on that one and we now have appraisals in May ahead of salary reviews in July.

I have been asked for "agent feedback" by HMRC on a number of occasions. The problem is, they always ask you for your thoughts on your most recent contact with HMRC. When you may be speaking to them on various matters many times in a week, this sort of "snapshot" approach is, in my opinion, of very limited value and it would be much more useful if they asked for overall impressions based on your interaction with HMRC over a period of time and this could then be compared with survey results for earlier periods. I'm sure this would give HMRC a better impression of how they are doing.

Please don't shout - but do please visit the Cabinet Office site    4 thanks

rbw | | Permalink

@JC

New entrants to the civil service do not have the option of a final salary pension scheme.  The choice for most is "nuovos" (a defined benefit scheme based, broadly speaking, on average salaries) and "partnership" - defined contributions.

@MuDu    4 thanks

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

You're wrong when you say  that private tax collection isn't an option.  It surely is.  But anyone expecting it to be cheaper will be very disappointed.  HMRC has been cutting costs all over the place for many years now, and the results are all too clear in some places.

It seems to me that people are unclear what they want from the public sector.  For example:

  • 'Let's not offer pensions to new starters'
  • ''HMRC needs to attract better quality staff'

I paraphrase, but hopefully the point is clear enough.  Or how about this

  • 'HMRC needs to operate more like the private sector'
  • 'Shock horror, they are recruiting people from the private sector and paying them lots of money.  And now one of their bosses has left and is working for someone else for lots of money'

OK that one's below the belt, but surely the point is clear.  You get what you pay for, whether it's in the private sector or public sector.  If I want good service and quality, should I expect to get it at the cheapest supermarket, or the one that costs a bit more?

Having said all that, I agree that the phrase 'excellent staff appraisal system' is an oxymoron.

And finally I wonder why the manager in your graphic needs two mates to break the news to his team member about his poor performance.  Or have I misinterpreted it?  Is it a manager saving time by doing appraisals three at a time? I think we should be told.

 

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

The problem here...    1 thanks

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:
Leave the donkey work to us. Meaning trust us HMRC. Then all HMRC has to do is investigate and collect. That way, in a few years, HMRC will become a lot more efficient as they would only have to concentrate on checking us instead of trying to implement systems that they heven't a clue about.

The problem here is that most taxpayers are unrepresented and pay tax via PAYE, so even if the above did apply, it would only apply to a minority of taxpayers (although probably a majority of tax contributed).

Equally, HMRC have always maintained that the only way forward on this particular issue comes down to agent accreditation, a subject which gets the blood boiling amongst the profession.

headed in the wrong direction.

The Black Knight | | Permalink

HMRC are engaged in a cost cutting exercise which has a side effect of reducing the tax take.

The least cost option is to collect no tax and that does seem to be where we are headed.

There won't be any money to pay their pensions soon anyway so then they can have as many days off as they like.

DerekChaplin's picture

If you start knowing the result...    5 thanks

DerekChaplin | | Permalink

the process becomes meaningless.

Knowing that 20% will need to improve would indicate that they already know who the 20% are, or else the whole process is going to be a sham. You cannot put figures on this at the start of the process, surely at the end you tally the results and comes up with the figures?

That would be like a tax payer starting with the tax figure they wanted to pay, then working their income and expenses from that - a process I'm sure HMRC would not be pleased about.

In order for appraisals to work effectively, they need to be done by managers who know the employees well enough to be able to appraise their work. They need to be well thought out and designed to suit the jobs being undertaken. A one-size fits all will never produce the results you wish for.

The point of an appraisal is to identify staff strengths and weaknesses, then identify ways to utlise their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses. Any system where the employe dictates to the manager a % for each category is doomed to failure, either by managers not caring, or staff feeling demotivated.

If you have a team of 10 people who are all doing amazing work, does their manager have to pick one to praise, 2 to berate and leave the other 7 as "adequate" - you can only begin to imagine the level of job satisfaction when they are told "well actually you've all done brilliantly, but I have targets to meet"

If you are going to replace a system, make sure the one you replace it with is actually better than the one you get rid of.

These predetermined ratings

Vinoo | | Permalink

These predetermined ratings should first be applied to the managers.

that's exactly how the civil service costing works

The Black Knight | | Permalink

[quote=DerekChaplin]

That would be like a tax payer starting with the tax figure they wanted to pay, then working their income and expenses from that - a process I'm sure HMRC would not be pleased about.

/quote]

That's exactly how it works.

HMRC also work out how much they need to spend on their pensions, holidays, strikes and sick entitlement and the difference between this and the tax payers calculations is known as the TAX GAP.

Not all private sector are on £silly    1 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

 

andrew.hyde wrote:
You get what you pay for, whether it's in the private sector or public sector.  If I want good service and quality, should I expect to get it at the cheapest supermarket, or the one that costs a bit more?

There are plenty (if not the majority) of excellent and competent workers in the private sector who aren't receiving huge remuneration packages.  Only the best go onto to £100k+ salaries and eye watering pensions.  There are plenty of qualified/experienced accountants who aren't even earning enough to pay higher rate tax.  I've seen adverts from HMRC offering call centre advisor jobs at £18k p.a. - I've seen adverts for practice for semi-senior tax assistants at similar, or less, with none of the perks.  Maybe in the City, private sector pay is a lot more than public sector, but out in the sticks, public sector is comparable or better for like-for-like jobs.  All this "public sector is carp because they won't pay decent wages" is a load of twaddle outside the City.

As for the supermarket example, any sane person would shop around and get their Heinz tomato ketchup and Kelloggs corn flakes wherever it's cheaper - i.e. the same product at the lowest price.  Buying top of the range lamp chops in Waitrose doesn't automatically guarantee it'll be tastier than at Lidl.  If you want good service & quality, you shop around for it and choose based on your own experience and values - you certainly can't just assume that the more expensive will be better.

itp3asso's picture

colour coded charts at new hmrct

itp3asso | | Permalink

" .. a red person was not supposed to talk to a green person.... "

so what were to happen if there were the same chinese walls beween a " white " person and ae "black " person ??

oh dearie dearie me .... somebody has' nt thought thru their colour blindness !!!

johnjenkins's picture

@frustratedwithhmrc

johnjenkins | | Permalink

That's exactly the point. Most of the tax comes from the tax payers that cause HMRC the most problems. Let us take that over (including PAYE, as long as HMRC have a record of what we've done). Change the name to TIC (Treasury Investigations and Collections, Her Majesty really has nothing to do with it anymore. Oh yes Give Customs and Excise back. (We would control VAT). This could all be done under the guise of       let me think     ah yes    Agent Streamline Strategy.

itp3asso's picture

andrew hyde comment re supermarkets    1 thanks

itp3asso | | Permalink

well andrew ... i go to lidl regularly and get products there which we would not even be OFFERED in sainsburys waitrose or m and s

and hey ... they re bloddy good and bloody cheap
obviously i cannot tell you if they re CHEAPER becaue as mentioned the other three do not stock a like for like product .

lesson : a premium emporium does not always the best product offer ( if you ' ll excuse the convoluted teutonix syntax )

Staff always learn to buck the system    1 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

kenatnam wrote:

When I worked on a production line in the 90's the next big thing was performance measurement and we started measuring everything, team was pitted against team and eventually the cleverer ones worked out how to come top of the performance charts. Unfortunately while all this introspective shilly shallying was going on our product quality slipped ( we ere spending more time measuring than ensuring quality) and our competitors gained market share because our unhappy customers went to them. Once it was realised that the customer is more important than internal measurement the performance charts were thrown on the scrapheap!

 

HMRC have never asked me how they did, so how can they know how they are doing? They may think that the Government are their customers, but I have news for them, we are!

 

Sage, on the other hand invariably send me a questionnaire after each contact - that is what turns mediocre into world class, and if HMRC are not striving to be world class then I suggest as a tax payer that the management is sacked en-masse and some world class management from industry appointed in their place.

 

Just a thought....

Well said!  At the end of the day, it's the "customer" that should decide.  That's what's wrong with the NHS - all these targets and the managers patting each other on the back, but no-one's monitoring whether the patient and their family are happy.  Look at the Staffs hospital - people dying and being badly treated, but the "scores" were good!  My FIL was seriously ill a few years ago when they had (I think) a 16 week deadline for operations - funnily enough, he got his op after 15 weeks and 6 days, even though he'd be stuck in hospital all that time, being promised operations "next week" that never happened - funny how they managed to organise it just in time to tick a box wasn't it, but couldn't give a toss before then that he was languishing in a hospital bed, condition getting more serious every day!  Since then, with various family and friends, I've jokingly told them that their x-ray, consultancy appointment, A&E treatment or whatever will be done just before whatever deadline they ticked their boxes by - once I was sat with my OH in an eerily empty A&E (only us there) and she joked that my theory would be proved wrong because they couldn't possibly make her wait the 4 hours when there was, literally, no-one else there and the staff were all walking around aimlessly and randomly chatting to eachother - I was proved right when it got to 3 and a half hours before they called her through!  They work backwards from the deadline, not forwards, so they will meet their deadlines and tick their boxes, but have no incentive whatsoever to do any better, even where they can.  That comes back exactly to this production line example - staff learn how to "tick their boxes" and that mentality takes over!

 

 

Also the "one man, one job" mentality of unionised workforces    1 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

Also to blame are the unions and their "one man, one job" fundamentalism which fractures the whole operation into far too many bite-size operations that have to be done by different staff.  A massive job creation exercise under the guises of specialism!  

Just like the old example of the ship-building production line (don't know how true it is, but certainly not beyond the realms), where one person's job was to insert the rivet and the next was to hit it with a hammer - the production line stopped when the hammer hitter wasn't there - the other's weren't "qualified" to use the hammer!  Like I say, don't know how true it was, but you can certainly see the similarities in any current public sector organisation and certainly true of the HMRC.

Compare what with the private sector where accountancy practices don't seem to have problems in finding staff able to handle wide-ranging job descriptions, even at relatively junior levels.

 

The more things change, the more they stay the same    5 thanks

klytus | | Permalink

I left HMRC just over four years ago and this 3-category appraisal was in use then, and had been for a number of years!

The categories back then were 'Exceed', 'Satisfactory' and 'Not Met' (as opposed to the new 'Exceed', 'Met' and 'Must Improve'). I never met anyone, or heard of anyone, getting a 'not met', simply because management didn't want the aggravation of having to deal with the local union reps. 'Exceed' markings were rarer than hen's teeth - never more than one per team, despite management denial of a blindingly obvious quota system. That said, when broken down, the additional pay rise from getting a 'exceed' instead of a 'satisfactory' marking was approximately an extra cup of coffee a day from the tea trolley (approx 50p!). Consequently, HMRC had vast numbers of staff, of wildly diverse performance standards, all being deemed 'satisfactory', whether a genuine grafter or a 'feet on the desk, reading the Sunday supplements'-type!

A 20% quota of 'exceed' markings sounds like a breakthrough for the unions - what are they complaining about? The fact that one can actually say that 20% will exceed their target suggests the targets aren't stretching enough. And judging by the performance of HMRC staff I've had contact with recently, I would suggest there's an awful lot more than 10% that need improvement!

Performance in HMRC will only improve if and when the department puts all of its staff on 12-month rolling contracts. 'Exceed' - you get a genuinely worthwhile bonus. 'Satisfactory' - you get to keep your job (subject to cutbacks). 'Must Improve' - here's your P45!

The ability to coast to a 'satisfactory/met' marking each year coupled with the perception all too many of them have - that they have a 'job for life' - is a fundamental cause of the apathy and poor performance of many HMRC staff.

Btoom

The Black Knight | | Permalink

D Weston wrote:

I wonder if anyone carried out an appraisal of their new chiefs performance in her previous role at the Border Agency ?

 

If you are in the lowest percentile you get a promotion! Come on get with the civil service view of the world it's a reverse image from ours!

glynisbm's picture

you may like to google the    1 thanks

glynisbm | | Permalink

you may like to google the rank and yank system which was once so beloved by Microsoft, Ford, Enron etc. (sorry couldn't post a link)

This appraisal system is being adopted by HMRC albeit in a modified form ... it will do little except demoralise staff further.

The previous posters who said Inland Revenue training was superior to what it is now are correct; the current training is ad hoc and DIY.. I'm sure you can imagine what the results of that sort of training are likely to be. This is because HMRC will not invest in trainers and training..very short sighted of them I'm sure you'll agree.

One poster mentions privatisation..well.. parts of DMB, HR, tax credits are/are about to be privatised and the results are not good. Consider this, private companies are trading to make a profit, they're not charities. Profit, rather than getting money into the Exchequer will always be their main concern.

 

glynisbm's picture

Public/Private companies...spot the difference    1 thanks

glynisbm | | Permalink

D Weston wrote:

glynisbm wrote:

One poster mentions privatisation..well.. parts of DMB, HR, tax credits are/are about to be privatised and the results are not good. Consider this, private companies are trading to make a profit, they're not charities. Profit, rather than getting money into the Exchequer will always be their main concern.

 

 

ATOS assessing disability claimants are a prime example of how corrupting private enterprise can be. Something like 60% of appeals against their decisions are upheld.

 

Exactly.. ATOS is a very good example of a private company costing the taxpayer millions (tax gap anyone?) 

ATOS employ nurses, doctors, midwives and physiotherapists, most of whom have undergone training in the NHS (taxpayer funded) who assess claimants on behalf of DWP and usually rule them fit for work even though the claimants own GP or NHS specialist has said they are not fit for work. The claimant appeals to the tribunal and has their appeal upheld.

The ATOS/DWP contract is fatally flawed in that the service level agreement makes little or no provision for ATOS to pay penalties as pointed out by the Public Accounts Committee....you really could not make it up! 

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Utter bulls@#%!

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

glynisbm wrote:
The ATOS/DWP contract is fatally flawed in that the service level agreement makes little or no provision for ATOS to pay penalties as pointed out by the Public Accounts Committee....you really could not make it up!

I carry no torch for ATOS, who are simply following the process laid down by the DWP who raised the contract in the first place.

That the DWP is trying to get millions of claimants off the Disability Living Allowance et al and onto Jobseekers Allowance where they will have to explain their efforts to find a job on a weekly basis (formerly fortnightly) is simply a recognition that too many people have been getting away with this dodge for too long, certainly since St. Margaret of Thatchers day.

I have some sympathy for the genuinely disabled, but there are far too many slackers who are able to fake/deceive medical professionals with unverifiable or self-inflicted medical complaints.

Why should I get up at 6AM, 5-days-a-week and give up nearly 50% of my hard-earned money so that some poorly educated slacker can get up at lunchtime, watch Sky TV, then bugger off down the pub.

Their sole skill being the ability to wheeze upon demand and accurately describe the medical condition that they are faking to a nurse or GP?

Do me a favour, I wasn't born yesterday, even if you were...

glynisbm's picture

I was born in 1960...is that yesterday?    1 thanks

glynisbm | | Permalink

frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

glynisbm wrote:
The ATOS/DWP contract is fatally flawed in that the service level agreement makes little or no provision for ATOS to pay penalties as pointed out by the Public Accounts Committee....you really could not make it up!

ATOS are merely following the process laid down by the DWP.

That the DWP is trying to get millions of claimants off the Disability Living Allowance et al and onto Jobseekers Allowance where they will have to explain their efforts to find a job on a weekly basis (formerly fortnightly).

I have some sympathy for the genuinely disabled, but there are far too many slackers who are able to fake/deceive medical professionals with unverifiable or self-inflicted medical complaints.

Why should I get up at 6AM, 5-days-a-week and give up nearly 50% of my hard-earned money so that some poorly educated slacker can get up at lunchtime, watch Sky TV, then bugger off down the pub.

Their sole skill being the ability to wheeze upon demand and accurately describe the medical condition that they are faking to a nurse or GP?

Do me a favour, I wasn't born yesterday, even if you were...

Tut tut tut someone got out the wrong side of the bed! This heat doesn't agree with everyone I suppose.

Now if as you say, the claimant was deceiving the GP/NHS specialist in some way, then why don't DWP/ATOS prosecute the claimant for fraud (see my FoI request under prosecution of fraud and the DWP interesting response :-)) 

I agree there are some fraudsters out there but according to PAC and NAO benefit fraud makes up less than 1% of the total benefits bill. 

Please feel free to browse the following websites - Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC),  Black Triangle Campaign and False Economy to name but a few or google Micheal Meacher MP regarding the speech made in parliament about ATOS/DWP.

 

Kind regards

 

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Can't have it both ways...    1 thanks

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

glynisbm wrote:
I agree there are some fraudsters out there but according to PAC and NAO benefit fraud makes up less than 1% of the total benefits bill.

It is already acknowledged that a vast number of DLA claimants withdraw their claims before ATOS assessment and equally of those who appeal 60% might very well be allowed, but a further 40% of appeals are rejected.

I accept that genuinely disabled claimants are being put under the spotlight, but this is only to weed out the fraudulent who are undermining the whole basis of the welfare system.

Regardless of the fact that fraud may or may not make up 1% of the whole welfare bill, it is still fraud and such fraud (going undetected) is cumulative, year-after-year for as long as the fraud exists...

1% of the welfare budget is still billions of pounds every year!

glynisbm's picture

Devil in the details...    1 thanks

glynisbm | | Permalink

frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

glynisbm wrote:
I agree there are some fraudsters out there but according to PAC and NAO benefit fraud makes up less than 1% of the total benefits bill.

It is already acknowledged that a vast number of DLA claimants withdraw their claims before ATOS assessment and equally of those who appeal 60% might very well be allowed, but a further 40% of appeals are rejected.

I accept that genuinely disabled claimants are being put under the spotlight, but this is only to weed out the fraudulent who are undermining the whole basis of the welfare system.

Regardless of the fact that fraud may or may not make up 1% of the whole welfare bill, it is still fraud and such fraud (going undetected) is cumulative, year-after-year for as long as the fraud exists...

1% of the welfare budget is still billions of pounds every year!

 

There are many reasons why people withdraw their claims prior to assessment;

  • they die (cancer sufferers and those afflicted with motor neurone disease (specifically bulbar paralysis) for example)
  • their health improves (e.g people with Orthopeadic conditions - hip/knee replacements)   
  • they are migrated from IB (incapacity benefit)  onto ESA (Employment Support allowance) into the WRAG (work related activity group) - usually those who need extra help to get back into work such as those suffering with certain mental health issues.

As with most things the devils in the details!

I stand by my previous statement in which I said fraud accounts for LESS THAN 1% and if the DWP are so convinced that benefits are being fraudulently claimed why aren't they prosecuting?  Go on the whatdotheyknow website enter prosecution of fraud and see the DWP response for yourself.

CAB recently stated that the reason some appeals are failing are because the claimant is representing themselves...if the individual is represented the success rate at tribunal is much higher. 

 

 

Locutus's picture

Less than one percent?!?    1 thanks

Locutus | | Permalink

glynisbm wrote:

I agree there are some fraudsters out there but according to PAC and NAO benefit fraud makes up less than 1% of the total benefits bill. 

Sorry, I just can't believe fraud is less than 1% of the total benefits bill.  Probably not much fraud with the state pension, but it is rife in other areas particularly sickness benefit.  Genuine sickness would be fairly uniform across the population.  However, there have been huge spikes in sickness benefit claimants in certain areas of the country, where the claimant knew it was easier to find a friendly doctor to sign them off sick for something difficult to prove, such as "bad back", than to find a job.

Surprise, surprise, since the stricter tests came in 900,000 (as at March 2013) have chosen to come off sickness benefit, rather than take the test.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9963012/900000-choose-to-come-off-sickness-benefit-ahead-of-tests.html

I bet most of those who came off had been milking the system.

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

I don't deny that cancer sufferers are genuine claimants...

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

But if cancer sufferers are inconvenienced to weed out hundreds of thousands of fraudulent claimants, then my apologies, but although unfortunate, it is a fact of life and also a condition of receiving welfare since Beveridge.

glynisbm's picture

I agree... to a point

glynisbm | | Permalink

frustratedwithhmrc wrote:

But if cancer sufferers are inconvenienced to weed out hundreds of thousands of fraudulent claimants, then my apologies, but although unfortunate, it is a fact of life and also a condition of receiving welfare since Beveridge.

 

I accept that there are those who make fraudulent claims but I still think this government is using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

Tax is a disincentive

drakeltd | | Permalink

If we wish to stop something happening then we start to/increase the tax on it.

So isn't the converse true... to start something happening we should reduce taxation.

I believe current economic climate is to encourage working and discourage spending, although that is perhaps an oversimplification.

Therefore perhaps PAYE should be abandoned (thus saving a figurative 50% of HMRC staff).

This could be counterbalanced by increasing VAT to discourage spending on consumeristic products, whilst keeping VAT on basic commodities low.

The loss of PAYE would mean that all companies' HR departments could be slimmed down. The reduction in PAYE would mean that there is less drag on companies' profits and so their essential widgets would be cheaper and more could be exported. Thus causing more productive jobs of less consumeristic products being created. The high-end products would be more expensive, but high net worth individuals would probably welcome this increased disparity as it bolsters their self-perceived status.

It would be a welcome break for the tax return completing populace who could spend their time far better.

 

 

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

Nice idea...but...

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

drakeltd wrote:
Therefore perhaps PAYE should be abandoned (thus saving a figurative 50% of HMRC staff).

This could be counterbalanced by increasing VAT to discourage spending on consumeristic products, whilst keeping VAT on basic commodities low.

Unfortunately to completely withdraw PAYE would require the abolition of Income Tax, Employees NI and Employers NI.

This brings in about £200 billion (difficult to breakout non-PAYE figures from UK Tax Income), but this is versus £100 billion in VAT, so at a ballpark you would have to triple VAT and even at 60% would only be revenue neutral if UK consumers made no behavioural changes to avoid / evade VAT.

I suspect the channel ferry companies would be sold out until doomsday even at £1,000 a head.

 

Job Assessment

jiatbanus | | Permalink

I suspect that this is code for :20% get agreed bonuses. 70% get super bonuses and 10% get promotion to a higher grade.

ATOS    2 thanks

jiatbanus | | Permalink

My Brother in Law died recently at aged 46. He had been on DLA for some years and was suddenly taken off Disability Allowance "shortly after having a suffered a stroke", and was subsequently assessed fit for work "just before he died"! Of course he represented himself. There are not so many well off individuals on DLA who can afford a representative.. 

Potentially Gossly Inequitable Civil Servant Pensions ...

JC | | Permalink

@rbw

'.. New entrants to the civil service do not have the option of a final salary pension scheme.  The choice for most is "nuovos" (a defined benefit scheme based, broadly speaking, on average salaries) and "partnership" - defined contributions...'

Defined Benefit - a set formula, rather than investment returns. Guarantees a certain pay-out at retirement generally based on salary and year membership, retirement age etc. It is worth noting that the traditional form of 'Defined Benefit' is a 'Final Salary' plan and presumably the UK Government has adopted the 'Unfunded' approach so that it effectively becomes pay-as-you-go out of current taxes raised

Defined Contribution - pay-out dependent upon contributions and investment performance

http://resources.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/NSNPS_Ma...

Section 18.

Example (nuvos - defined benefit)
Simon joined the scheme on 1st April, on pensionable pay of £17,750. His pensionable pay went up to £18,250 on 1st October, so his pensionable earnings in his first year were £18,000. He earns £414 (2.3% of £18,000) of pension. The following October his pensionable pay went up to £18,500, so his pensionable earnings in his second year were £18,375. In that year he earns pension of £422.63. The pension earned in the previous year has been increased by 2.5% in line with rises in the cost of living, so by the end of year 2 he has earned a total of £846.98 of annual pension. Each year he continues as a nuvos member he will build up further pension this way.

Perhaps someone can help me out here with the above example because I have clearly mis-read/mis-understood the example

Taking the same earnings figures in the private sector someone who saves £414 pa. as a pension has it added to their pension pot and it does not become their annual pension. On a SIPP their annual pension from this £414 pot would in fact be:

Your maximum GAD rate: 6.12%
Your tax-free cash value: £0.00
Your fund value after tax-free cash: £414.00
Your maximum annual income: £25.34

Now £25.34 is a world away from £414 annual income! And in order to get an annual income of £414 someone in the private sector would need to have a pot of £6,764. So instead of being 2.3% of pensionable pay it would in fact be (6,764/18,000) = 37.57% - rather a difference!

So the question is – why does this inequality exist and who (presumably the taxpayer) effectively funds the annual indexed linked £6,764 to provide civil servants with their handsome £414 pension after little contribution on their part

 

Because    1 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

JC wrote:

So the question is – why does this inequality exist and who (presumably the taxpayer) effectively funds the annual indexed linked £6,764 to provide civil servants with their handsome £414 pension after little contribution on their part

Because the real tax payers (those that pay Tax) are stupid.

 

This is the problem ...    2 thanks

JC | | Permalink

Look at this

3.61 Public service pensions form a significant part of the Government’s total liabilities, with a total net liability of £959.5 billion as at 31 March 2011 (restated 2009-10: £1,134.7 billion)

Says it all ...

 

The Public Service ptroblem.

jiatbanus | | Permalink

JC. Thanks for pointing out that it's the Government's liability. I really felt it was mine - and it getting me down.

@JC    4 thanks

rbw | | Permalink

@JC

I suspect you have a firm view on the matters but 2 quick comments for the record.

First, the civil servant is not "someone who saves £414 pa. as a pension".  The contribution rate for that level of pay in 2012 was 4.1%.  That's a contribution of £738. For purposes of comparison you need then to add to that the equivalent of the employer's contribution (unless of course you are comparing with a private sector pension where the employer makes no contribution which gets us into a much wider issue about comparisons of salaries).  The Civil Service publishes the equivalent to such contributions as the "Accruing Superannuation Liability Charge".  About 16% IIRC.  And all that's taken into account when salaries for the Civil Service are set (or of course when they are recommended by independent bodies but then restricted by politicians.)

Second, you seem to be comparing a current contribution with a current pension.  IIRC even today there is an assumption of capital growth over the life of a pension pot.

 

But by all means continue to add to the tide which has made the civil service so much less attractive an option for today's bright young people.  That seems to me to be a nice example of positive feedback - ie you'll certainly get the civil service you think you have whether you have it now or not.

It is sad that HMRC is in    3 thanks

Ashlea | | Permalink

It is sad that HMRC is in such a mess. As many have said, the managers are lost, the staff are answering phones with their hands tied as they have poor systems that do not communicate with other departments, they have too few staff and they are not trained properly and effectively.

The poor staff then get us calling "at the end of our tether" and that must be the final blow to any moral they have left. Whilst many are useless i still commend them for their job.

I would like to see HMRC keep workers on, improve training and simply their systems for the staff and us!

The best and only effective way to do this is not to hire in expensive "consultants" (like every other sector seems to without an ounce of success apart from on "paper"), but instead ask the Accountants, ask the STAFF, ask the people who know what is required of HMRC and how they think HMRC can deliver this.

Get back to basics.

I really hope HMRC does fix things and it would become a good organisation and not quite so hated by everyone.

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