HMRC suffers heavy personnel losses

Staff are quitting HMRC in their highest numbers for four years, according to accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, as HMRC comes under growing pressure to improve its performance.

A total of 1,697 staff resigned from HMRC in 2012-3, the highest number since 2008-9, according to UHY, up slightly from the 1,629 who quit in 2011/12.

Roy Maugham, tax partner at UHY, said, “In the last couple of years, HMRC has suffered heavy losses in personnel. This latest increase in resignations is not good news for HMRC or the taxpayer, at a time when its effectiveness and quality of service are under intense scrutiny.”

“HMRC has come in for some stinging criticism recently over its performance and it seems to be taking some time for staff morale to be restored.”

HMRC is under so much pressure to target tax evasion and avoidance that it has been forced to shift more of its budget towards dealing with enforcement, and so it has less capacity to deal with "run of the mill enquiries" from customers, Maugham said.

Staff resignations hit hard at the very top of HMRC, with...

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should_be_working's picture

Is that all?

should_be_working | | Permalink

1697 out of 64,000 is about 2.5% - a pretty low rate of staff turnover.

Sadly

John Windsor | | Permalink

The problem is that it's generally the good staff that leave while the incompetent ones remain.

Time for change's picture

I remember visiting workshops    1 thanks

Time for change | | Permalink

for self-assessment in, or around 1994/1995. As we were entering the lifts to attend the various courses, long serving and well respected "Inland Revenue" staff were leaving to go and work for banks, building societies etc etc.

I can't imagine that there's much enjoyment working in the current environment either.

As with all these things, management knows best and, regretfully, rarely does.

.    7 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

The final para sums it up really. The new appraisal system has already decided that 10% of people are rubbish and 20% good. Who on earth ever heard of fixed quotas in appraisals!

 

.    3 thanks

Lship | | Permalink

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

The final para sums it up really. The new appraisal system has already decided that 10% of people are rubbish and 20% good. Who on earth ever heard of fixed quotas in appraisals!

 

 

Especially in HMRC, surely it should be 10% good, 20% OK and 70% poor, then they might actually get somewhere and not take an age to answer any query.

Is this a surprise?

the_Poacher | | Permalink

Staff in HMRC are working harder than ever, have not received a real terms pay increase for many years and have to put up with quota based performance systems. As the recession lifts the rate of departure will increase

That was me...

AndyC555 | | Permalink

Time for change wrote:

for self-assessment in, or around 1994/1995. As we were entering the lifts to attend the various courses, long serving and well respected "Inland Revenue" staff were leaving to go and work for banks, building societies etc etc.

I can't imagine that there's much enjoyment working in the current environment either.

As with all these things, management knows best and, regretfully, rarely does.

  Hey, that was me delivering those courses back in the mid-90s when I worked for HMIT (as then was).  I left HMIT in 1997 to go and work for a firm of accountants.

Contact number request    2 thanks

Ben Alligin | | Permalink

Has anyone got a contact number for any of the 20% 'good staff member'? I always knew that I was unlucky at the village raffle, but I've just discovered that I have same the strike rate with getting hold of one of the good staff when I contact HMRC. I reckon only 2% of my calls get me through to someone who I would generously classify as good. Ho hum, some people have all the good luck!!

I would be amazed if any of the contact staff on the Corporation Tax helpline number got a good rating on their appraisal. They might be good at fending off calls, but as for doing anything useful/helpful it hasn't happened to me to date. Contrast that with the old system where you could contact an inspector at the relevant tax office directly, they resolved all queries/issues in minutes. It was a genuine pleasure to speak to them. They even returned your call!! As Mary Hopkins once sang, 'Those were the days.....'

Yes, a large organisation

bseddon | | Permalink

Yes, a large organisation might expect and want 4%.  Sure some good people will leave but others will be recruited.  Maybe a high of 2.5% indicates the place is not demanding enough of their staff and that under performers are not shown the door soon enough.  Might be why the organisation struggles to get its book in order.

My brother in law is a tax    1 thanks

Fenella | | Permalink

My brother in law is a tax inspector (they're a rum lot my in-laws - my other brother in law operates speed traps for the police!), well he is qualified as an Inspector but hasn't been given a post for nearly three years, so is stuck doing grunt work. His gf worked in one of the face to face centres, helping people with their tax returns, that was shut and she was shunted onto the RTI telephone helpline 2 weeks before it all kicked off, despite never having worked in PAYE before, and received very little training. Whatever else is going on, if you treat your staff like that it's not surprising that they up and leave!

 

 

Confucious says

David Gordon FCCA | | Permalink

 

 Many years ago I read an excellent history on the causes of the Russian Revolution.

 I have never forgotten that the author opined that one of the understated reasons was, the administration of the Russian state was so incompetent, that no honest or competent person would work for it. So the collapse in civil administration was almost self-fulfilling. 

 Perhaps the decent HMRC managers are beginning to decide that it is no fun being the meat in the sandwich between an other worldly executive on top, and a herd of jobs'worths and numpties on the bottom.

 If you think that is cruel, when was the last time you heard of an HMRC officer being sacked for incompentence?

quite the contrary Fenella    1 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

it seems even though they are so 'badly treated' they see the public sector job as easy street compared to the 'real world'...(I wonder how many leave the public sector...for another public sector job....)

My brother in law is a tax [inspector?]

bseddon | | Permalink

Fenella wrote:

... if you treat your staff like that it's not surprising that they up and leave!

But they are not upping and leaving.  2.5% is a low number for staff turnover in a large organisation.  And this, for HMRC, is a high number.  The conclusion has to be that HMRC is much better than average place to work.  Or that staff down believe they will be successful obtaining gainful employment elsewhere.  Or that managers are not doing the human resource part of their job and shepparding under performers out of the door.

Too Low    1 thanks

Ian McTernan CTA | | Permalink

The staff turnover figure is too low, and shows that for many the allure of a gold plated pension, pay rises based on scales, and the other many perks of working for the public sector far outweigh they might get in the private sector.

Many HMRC staff do a  great job, despite the many obstacles put in their way by successive management teams and the bleating of the likes of Margaret (sound bite) Hodges and the PAC.

Resources to the Department are being squeezed, and as usual the people at the top come up with whizz bang ideas for saving money without any consultation (or if they do consult, they consult the wrong people) and then force them on the put upon staff with little to no real training.

The other problem which is common to all pubic bodies is that the brightest quickly realise they can make more money elsewhere and take the training and leave, whereas there is no system in place to weed out the people who really shouldn't be working there- and there never will be as the Unions would rather go on strike than allow that to ever happen.

The new review system is a joke, with a pre determined outcome for the numbers in each section.  Reviews in the public sector have ever been thus- I recall my own review whilst at HMRC and being told 'we can't put you in box 1 as we have filled all those spaces and you haven't been here as long as others, so you have to go in box 2'.

HMRC resignations

Les Beckett | | Permalink

When I was an Inspector of Taxes(before the flood!), there was a defined career path,and you had responsibility for defined cases in a designated area,so you knew your taxpayers and local accountants so were able to provide a service and deal with situations in a context of familiarity.Since the HMRC/C & E merger all structure seems to have gone,with taxpayer affairs in cyberspace and no clear career path.The HMRC officials I speak to are so disillusioned and frustrated with the current system the only wonder is that there are not even more jumping ship before it flounders.

Bottom 10%

blueskies | | Permalink

Would be interested to know  :

1  Last years "must improve %"

2  How many of this years 10% "must improve" were also in last years?

3  Whether the training budget has been targeted effectively to ensure that the 10% that "must improve" are offered proper re-training before they are promoted.

bring back Julius

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Bring back Julius Caesar

Bit of decimation would work wonders.

The Time that is wasted by professional jobsworths and the generally incompetent is phenomenal in the meantime tax evaders are having a ball.

I expect to maintain standards those that they cannot clone have to resign out of self respect.

Rob Fox's picture

HMRC staff losses    2 thanks

Rob Fox | | Permalink

As one of the leavers in 2011, a key motivator for me was discrimination against indirect tax staff. I was heavily involved in the re-design of tax training for HMRC and appalled by the refusal of the FDA (representing direct tax inspectors) to have 'inspector training' integrated with the new structure.  Now known as the Tax Professional Development Programme, it sits outside the general tax training frameowrk and is the old Inland Revenue inspector training under a new name. 

When in 2010 a handful of VAT inspectors passed the gateways to get on to an accelerated 2 year (as opposed to 4) form, the course director insisted they do the 4 year version.  Experienced indirect tax staff are given no credit for either long experience or external qualifications achieved, including CTA.

There is a glass ceiling in HMRC, preserving the grading mismatch between the two departments that merged in 2005.  As direct tax staff have been historically higher (and over) graded, they are in the decison making positions and have no interest in changing this.

HMRC

dukes1971 | | Permalink

Management set unrealistic goals and then expect the staff to succeed. I can concur staff are moved in to new posts with little training and then expect to be proficient.  And how can they operate a new appraisal system where 10% must fail? No wonder staff morale is low.

My brother in law is a tax    2 thanks

sherodwilliams | | Permalink

  In reply & support of the above, my son's partner was recruited through an agency to work for HMRC in a call centre in the north east of England. She was given minimal training because it was expected that she would leave within 3 months due to the admitted drudgery of the job ! She admitted that there was very little management interest shown in the "cannon fodder" staff who were dealing with public enquiries whilst there was a clear mandate as to the x minutes of break per hour as required by the Health and Safety police.She admitted that some people would last barely a week, some a month or so but the better ones were bright enough to see that this was never a career move. The only ones who stuck around were the ones with no talent for using the technology which had cost a fortune no doubt and those who seemed to have a single talent for cutting off calls from people who might have spent 30 minutes to get through to a human being. The best bit it seemed was that some of those with the single talent were praised and rewarded for hitting targets of calls being dealt with !!

She left after 10 weeks and I bet the guy who researched the anticipated 3 months and saved HMRC training costs was also rewarded for getting it right.

Percentages    2 thanks

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

Lship wrote:

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

The final para sums it up really. The new appraisal system has already decided that 10% of people are rubbish and 20% good. Who on earth ever heard of fixed quotas in appraisals!

 

 

Especially in HMRC, surely it should be 10% good, 20% OK and 70% poor, then they might actually get somewhere and not take an age to answer any query.

Missing the point there @Lship?  The percentages don't actually matter.  In an appraisal system you should set a standard, see how many fall below it, then decide what to do to fix it - for example training, capital punishment, huge bonuses (see under 'banks').  If you decide in advance how many don't meet the standard - 10% or 70% - then that's the answer you'll get, to nobody's surprise

accounts commitee

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Perhaps the parliamentary accounts committee should do a back to the shop floor exercise and actually find out why HMRC is failing the country.

These quotas and targets seem to work in the same way as the former Soviet Union. Do you think HMRC may be full of sleeper cells intent on the destruction of the UK economy?

expectations.    1 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

My assessment would be:

90% of staff perform as I expected (very poorly). So they would pass the test?

10% of staff exceed expectations. (HMRC will probably give them the chop)

I think Microsoft are also

kjevans | | Permalink

I think Microsoft are also reputed to use fixed quotas for appraisals.

Bottom 10%    1 thanks

jalwebster | | Permalink

What training budget.  As an ex-Inspector of Taxes who still has friends hanging on in there I know that training involving actual taxes knowledge ceased to happen for anyone below the rank of Inspector many moons ago.  The marriage between the old Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise has proved to be a disaster for the average taxpayer.  The bully boys from C & E have taken over the mindset and it is all about getting as much money in as possible, never mind about whether it is legally due or not and hanging on to repayment that are due for interminable lengths of time without any justification at all.  The concept of a public service is simply ridiculous when applied to HMRC - it does not serve the public it serves whichever political master or senior civil servant currently in charge without reference to what should be its real purpose - to make sure that everybody pays the right amount of tax - no less but equally no more either.  More training, more accessability and less "initiatives" moight improve things just a litt;le and Lord knows they need improving big time!!!!!

Somebody sacked for being    1 thanks

markdunham1 | | Permalink

Somebody sacked for being incompetent anywhere in the public sector would be a miracle!.

They cannot do the jobs

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I have sent a 64-8 to the Agents Centre; that came back with the retort that the National Insurance number was incorrect, so back to the client I went and had the form signed again. I sent it to HMRC Agent Centre two weeks ago. When I phoned I was told that there was a five week queue of post.

 

It seems to me that they either just don't want to do the work, which is why they send out enquiries (classic stalling mechanism, send enquiry, B/F file for four weeks, end of tale), or they will just pile up post and put their feet up drinking coffee.

 

I don't think that the staff turnover figures represent much; I have not seen any work out of the HMRC for absolutely years. I left them in 1987 and since then they have deteroriated rapidly. Not because I left them but because their organisational skills are that of a moth flying into a light bulb and dying.

HMRC staff.

ver1tate | | Permalink

It is true, the good staff are leaving, but they are being replaced! Yes, with those of little knowledge of tax or 'client' relations.

The main point is - there is

Vinoo | | Permalink

The main point is - there is no teamwork now among the staff- thanks to the senior management. It should not be surprising that HMRC are losing expertise- and talking about morals- there isn't any. 

@kjevans

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

Someone one at Microsoft must have read this. They have apparently just decided to give their stack-ranking system the old heave-ho. The story is here

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/12/microsoft_kills_stack_ranking_reviews/

and doubtless elsewhere.

Merger/takeover

MuDu | | Permalink

jalwebster wrote:

The bully boys from C & E have taken over the mindset and it is all about getting as much money in as possible, never mind about whether it is legally due or not and hanging on to repayment that are due for interminable lengths of time without any justification at all. 

 

Funny, the ex C&E staff are of the opinion that the Revenue have taken over the mindset.

Rob Fox's picture

HMRC staff losses    2 thanks

Rob Fox | | Permalink

When I was in HMRC we called the direct staff inspectors 'Olympic flames' - they never went out.  They still hardly ever get out of the office and the level of people skills is low.  This is one reason behind expansion of VAT led enquiries o SME businesses outside London.  Heaven knows there have been enough pilots; I delivered the VAT training for the first in 2006.  The 'can't do' attitude of the CT inspectors in the room - the highest paid, and in their view most expert - was appalling.

From my experience I can tell

stassin2 | | Permalink

From my experience I can tell you that fixed appraisal quotas are common in large companies.  If a manager does not hit their quota then they are put into the 10% rubbish category.  Sad but true!

Within HMRC, your pay    1 thanks

dukes1971 | | Permalink

Within HMRC, your pay increase was determined by your grade in the Appraisal system.  So 10% are doomed not to receive a pay increase in the first instance.  Surely unacceptable.