HMRC extends tax credits deadline due to strike

HMRC Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members are set for further strike action this week, at a time when their tax workload peaks. This has caused the Revenue to extend its tax credits deadline by a week. 

Members are being asked by the union to strike over a three-day rolled out action in various areas: 

  • Wednesday 30 July - North West England and Wales
  • Thursday 31 July - Scotland and Midlands
  • Friday 1 August - Northern (including Cumbria), Yorkshire & Humber, Eastern, London and South East, South West and Northern Ireland

*** UPDATE 30 July ***

In a statement HMRC said it is giving those who need to renew tax credits until 6 August to do so, due to the strike meaning some might find it hard getting through to the tax credits renewal helpline.

It encouraged users to use the new online renewal service in the meantime where possible, or post or self-serve over the phone using the automated speech-recognition service.

Tax credits customers with changes to declare must now tell HMRC by 6 August or they will lose their tax credits. 

Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, said she was "disappointed" by the PCS' timing to strike.

"It is a great shame that the union is asking HMRC staff to strike, deliberately putting the livelihoods of hard-working families at risk to further an industrial dispute," she said.

The union said in a message to members that the leverage in striking at a busy time "for a department which is already papering over significant cracks is obvious".

The PCS wants to win concessions on various issues including staffing levels, job security, personnel policies, office closures and privatisation. 

June strike action was hailed by the union as "highly successful and effective" as it says 2,500 permanent posts have been advertised. The PCS claimed the recruitment drive was a "direct result" of the action.

In addition to the planned strikes, the union has also asked members not to work overtime, as the money HMRC spends on this per month equates to 1,000 permanent roles. 

"We owe it to those whose jobs are threatened not to let HMRC off the hook in terms of masking shortages in staffing. HMRC is in utter chaos due to the level of job cuts.

"The tax credits and self assessment peak at the end of July make the employer [HMRC] vulnerable. By taking rolling action over these three days, you can maximise the pressure and help achieve a breakthrough towards our legitimate demands," the union said.

HMRC PCS members have already taken strike action twice this year, in February and June 

Comments
Time for change's picture

I suppose the next question is..............    1 thanks

Time for change | | Permalink

how many of those eligible, actually voted for strike action? Some will also say and, how many constituents voted for their MP, at the last election.

I don't think that anyone would disagree that "times are hard" and some quarters are bearing the brunt of this period of austerity, more than others. However, some honesty wouldn't go amiss.

Ex HMRC    8 thanks

AndyC555 | | Permalink

I worked in HMRC for 10 years before leaving around 17 years ago.

I now earn more and have put far more into my pension pot than I ever did when I was in HMRC.

The value of my prospective HMRC pension is 3 times that of my private pension.

If I were  still in HMRC I hope I'd recognise when I'm really well off.  

listerramjet's picture

oh joy    1 thanks

listerramjet | | Permalink

I think I might strike with regard to completing my self assessment.  It is an important point of principle so the strike might last a long time!

Not sure your headline is correct    1 thanks

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

It's surely not HMRC that is planning the action.

As for debating the issues, it's a good one to stay out of.  There are of course no right answers - only wrong ones.  Once the stones start flying around, it turns out we all live in glass houses (as Time for Change ably illustrates).

Stuck between a rock and a hard case

RKemsley | | Permalink

The issue with these staff members thinking of  striking is that it affects a huge amount of people unrelated to the problems with the employer ( HMRC). This is a government body who is meant to serve its clients, Self assessment people; tax credit claimants; us the public. We are given a deadline to complete our payments on account and renew our claims and therefore to state that to put pressure on the public at this time will cause the government to cave in and give them what they want is petty and if the small businesses did this where would we be? If terms and conditions are not good or explained well enough then this public body should have robust policies to resolve without going on or threatening to strike  - everyone loses and this pressure is here only due to the general election next year to give pressure on the current government and we revert back to the struggle between union power and elected government.

Although I appreciate working conditions may be challenging working together through these matters will prove more effective. People who get fined because they are unable to submit payments or people who's tax credits stop because no one it there to do the job will not value the strike as this has a direct impact on there ability to operate on the ground.

If it helps them answer the phone

posty133 | | Permalink

Rightly or wrongly if this means more staff are employed and this results in not spending half an hour on the phone trying to find a real person to speak too all the better!

Although I do wonder how sucesfull this action has really been, the last strike by where i am at least consisted of 2 union reps at 7am laden with bottles of water.

By 11am when I was passing again it consisted of a plackard taped to a barrier and a full car park with buisness as usual, prehaps it is HMRC planning the action after all!

 

To share or to shaft

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

AndyC555 wrote:

I worked in HMRC for 10 years before leaving around 17 years ago.

I now earn more and have put far more into my pension pot than I ever did when I was in HMRC.

The value of my prospective HMRC pension is 3 times that of my private pension.

If I were  still in HMRC I hope I'd recognise when I'm really well off.  

No doubt like most other parts of the public sector the pensions they offer today are much less than the past. I know in the police force you could retire at 50 with a big lump sum, not anymore, public services staff are being shafted from every direction incl their pensions. Really its the most lazy and easy thing to do, cut labour cost, rather than innovate a solution, poor management / strategy / leadership of the ministers.

Welcome to my world

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

RKemsley wrote:

The issue with these staff members thinking of  striking is that it affects a huge amount of people unrelated to the problems with the employer

I use the tube

HMRC Strike

michael1958 | | Permalink

I was in, what is meant to be,a busy HMRC office today to discuss a first tier case. Iwas in for over two hours I saw two people plus the two door men. I wonder why? Flexi time, site visits etc. or the obvious?

You what?

emanresu | | Permalink

Crikey!! So the rumour that the latest addition to HMRC's armoury is a batch of cruise missiles is true!

I take it that you meant "PCS plans further targeted strike action", Accounting Web?

Strike

johnporter | | Permalink

Maybe its time all Public Sector Pensions(including MPS) were transferred to the Nest/Now Pension scheme as they are the ones promoting it.

That will give them something to complain /strike about as it's going to be a hit or a miss as to pension at end of Period

Feed the people    1 thanks

the_Poacher | | Permalink

many HMRC staff will have decent pensions when they retire but over the last 5+ years they have all had actual pay cuts even ignoring the impact of inflation, worse T and C, worse pensions, worse jobs and limited job security. no wonder they are unhappy

Public Sector - good, Private bad

ronlfoot | | Permalink

Why, one may ask. should taxpayers pay for pension benefits provided to unproductive employees in the public sector at levels totally beyond the ability of employers in the productive part of the economy to provide. Especially when, at comparable skill levels, wages and in-work benefits are higher in the public sector.

And, apologists, don't give me that crap about average pension levels, conveniently ignoring part-time and short career working,

This is the economy of the madhouse and one way or another it will eventually fall with a crashing blow. 

​Gordon Brown considered it ok to hack at the pension returns in the private sector by his totally sly and dishonest changes to the tax system which has so far robbed company pension funds of £120 billion (and counting).

 

So, you public sector jobsworths, sleep easy in your beds for now but one day soon there will come some kind of equalisation.

The current situation can not prevail forever.

 

 

 

behind the times / ill informed    1 thanks

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

ronlfoot wrote:

Why, one may ask. should taxpayers pay for pension benefits provided to unproductive employees in the public sector at levels totally beyond the ability of employers in the productive part of the economy to provide. Especially when, at comparable skill levels, wages and in-work benefits are higher in the public sector.

And, apologists, don't give me that crap about average pension levels, conveniently ignoring part-time and short career working,

This is the economy of the madhouse and one way or another it will eventually fall with a crashing blow. 

​Gordon Brown considered it ok to hack at the pension returns in the private sector by his totally sly and dishonest changes to the tax system which has so far robbed company pension funds of £120 billion (and counting).

 

So, you public sector jobsworths, sleep easy in your beds for now but one day soon there will come some kind of equalisation.

The current situation can not prevail forever.

 

 

 

Your way out of date, look into the topic. The days of a superior pension for a lot of public sector is over, except of course for the politicians themselves.

Here Here Ronlfoot

North East Acco... | | Permalink

You are not correct SJH.

One friend of mine has just retired after 30 years in police. Over £150K lump sum and pension £1500 in hand and index linked. He's 50.

Another friend in police is due to retire next year. Lump sum £178K and £1700 index linked forecast.

Imagine how much you would need in a private pot to get that at age 50!!!

I am always correct

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

North East Accountant wrote:
You are not correct SJH.

One friend of mine has just retired after 30 years in police. Over £150K lump sum and pension £1500 in hand and index linked. He's 50.

Another friend in police is due to retire next year. Lump sum £178K and £1700 index linked forecast.

Imagine how much you would need in a private pot to get that at age 50!!!

I am correct it's just your friends have scraped into the transitional arrangements, speak to a copper who's a bit younger.

memyself-eye's picture

Not always

memyself-eye | | Permalink

And even under the new rules a public sector pension is way better than most private schemes.

Look on your next council tax statement - the policing precept always increases by a larger sum than does either the county or local authority precepts. Why? Because pension payments make up the largest expense.

The copper I know retired at 49!

The economics of the madhouse.

 

You're both right/wrong    1 thanks

andrew.hyde | | Permalink

The point is, and I failed before to get this across, that this argument always descends into anecdotal evidence that convinces nobody.

Pulic sector pensions, be they good or bad, are part of the overall remuneration package.  Job security tends to be factored in as well. Whether the overall remuneration package is excessive is another matter.  But once again everything is relative. Your view about the remuneration package of the CEO of Fatcatshire might be very different to what you think about a trainee nurse's pay. And both opinions might be perfectly tenable and helpful.

What is not helpful IMHO is sweeping generalisations about great swathes of public sector workers.

Lazy and dangerous

SJH-ADVDIPMA | | Permalink

I still say that cutting pay is a lazy and dangerous approach to problems. 

I work as an accountant but by chance i am surround by family that work in the NHS and the Police, the latter an Armed officer who has seen many a thing you and I would wish not, so i dont decry him a decent pension and early retirement, but it will be nothing like his predecesors by the time he gets there.

NHS workers in my family are now seriously considering whats the point, getting degrees, working hard to train, working hard and stressful jobs, to get equal or less money than factory floor workers and binmen, there clever people and want to be paid not a stipend but a decent salary to reflect their effort and skills.

Anyone who thinks our public sector on the whole is well remunerated is sadly now mistaken, and we should all be worried about what the consequences will be for us as we get older.  The only people willing to take the work, and or the only way for the private sector to make it pay, will be to employ neer do wells as some people call them.

 

 

 

 

Distortions

ronlfoot | | Permalink

The existence of an indexed-linked defined benefit pension scheme taxpayer-guaranteed and available only to a favoured sector is a total distortion of the market and makes difficult any meaningful comparison of remuneration levels across the field.

And, while I'm on my high horse, another anomaly is the "sick leave" wheeze whereby local authority (for example) workers gleefully tell you that they've used up all their holiday entitlement but it's all right because they have still got available x days unused time off "sick".

Sick! That's definitely the word for it..

 

 

 

Time for change's picture

Whilst we in the private sector might.........    1 thanks

Time for change | | Permalink

sometimes feel "hard done by", what we often fail to appreciate is that moral, in the public sector, is probably as low as it's ever been.

Nurses and medical staff are no longer treated with the respect that they deserve and, our Police force are now looked on as road-sweepers (no disrespect intended to those either), who literally pick up and deal with society's s**t.

We can all be "experts" but, as the saying goes, "the grass isn't always greener"

Public Sector Pension    1 thanks

MattG | | Permalink

As somebody who is both employed in the public sector and is self employed, having previously worked in the private sector I have some experience for comparison. Being an accountant I actually tried to calculate some figures to look at the value of the public sector pension I should one day receive (assuming the Govt hasn't moved the age I can claim it to 150 by then....).

First off I would point out I have looked at the current scheme - not those used previously. The previous schemes may or may not have been more generous/overly generous - but that's not what I'm looking at.

As with a lot of the people who started work in the public sector in the last few years I'm on the NUVOS scheme, Google it if you want the full details, but essentially you get 2.3% of whatever you earn in a year as an annual pension when you come to retire. This amount is increased by inflation (although only CPI now, not RPI). When I started you had to contribute 3.5% of your salary, but that has now been increased, depending on your salary band so it's now anywhere from 3.5% to 8.85% (as an aside it works like SDLT, so a small increase in pay over the wrong threshold can see you take home less money for no extra benefit!)

Taking an example of a 30 year old, paying 7.27% and assuming a 3% above inflation increase on a pension pot (research I did gave figures from 2.5% to 5% for this - with predictions that future returns are predicted to be towards the lower end of the scale) and an annuity rate of 6% I calculated that to match this average salary scheme you would need Employer contributions of around 13.5%, increasing the above inflation return to 4% reduces this to just 9.5%, due to the compounding effects.

Interestingly (depending on your definition of interesting....) the Superannuation rates applied tend to be towards the top end of the 20-30% range, I'm not entirely sure how this figure is arrived at, but I presume it it much higher than my figures due to the fact that the pension 'fund' is effectively a giant ponzi scheme, is not invested and so does not make a return.

Obviously there are a lot of variables, annuity rates, return on fund investments etc, but you can see that whilst these pensions are on not miserly they are not absolutely stellar either, particularly if you factor in public sector jobs generally being lower paid than private sector equivalents (generally more prevalent for lower management and very senior jobs - some of the lowest level admin jobs and middle management jobs actually compare favorably with the private sector).

The above notwithstanding I am not a union member, don't go on strike and when push comes to shove I will simply leave this job for a private sector one or full self employment based on a reasoned economic comparison. At the moment the flexible working arrangements which allow me to run a self employed practice at the same time as working, combined with the still reasonable pension outweigh the 20-30% extra I think I would make in the private sector.

Just thought it would be useful to look at some actual figures.

 

 

stevebritgimp's picture

Private Sector Strike

stevebritgimp | | Permalink

While I actually do have every sympathy with HMRC staff, and frankly I'm fine with them striking if it helps them make a point, as someone on the other side of the fence I've had a thought.  I spend a chunk of time working out stuff, providing HMRC with nearly all the information they have, and still I have to tell them what to do in a lot of cases.  I have just got off the phone now, because HMRC are refunding money to a client, and I know HMRC will turn around in a second and demand more back, because their PAYE people, and the SA people, won't talk to one another, even though they both use the same address.  We told them about a misallocated payment 14 months ago, and they'd done nothing.  We then get another letter dated July 2014 chasing an amount re March 2012.  I've now discussed it twice with them, but their ability to reallocate one payment is slower than their ability to revise previous returns for losses and issue a refund.

My suggestion, just out of pique, would be to have a private sector strike once a year - just for one day.  For one day we all refuse to do any unpaid work for the government.  We don't answer phones, we don't respond to letters.  We stop providing free interview rooms and meeting venues.  We put it down to 'industrial action' (presumably *we're* the industry here).  We could wave placards about how we haven't been paid for our work by HMRC *at all*.

External advice    2 thanks

the_Poacher | | Permalink

HMRC commissioned an independent body to do a remuneration:skills comparison for their staff. Rumour has it they won't show staff the results because of the fear that the best staff will leave for better deals. Bear in mind they vast majority of HMRC staff take home less than the did in 2010. Many in all sectors have had a tough deal in recent years but the government is very adept at kicking its own employees

good luck with the strike today

the_Poacher | | Permalink

All the best for the strike today PCS.

Lets face it, .....

AndrewV12 | | Permalink

Lets face it accountancy practices are not nice places to work, if we had the nerve we should all have gone on strike years ago and could have joined HMRC on the picket line.