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 nine senior civil servants quitting this year – the highest number for five years, UHY said.
Most of those who quit worked in personal tax (1,238 resignations). The benefits and credits department also saw a massive increase in staff quitting, with more than treble the number of resignations compared to the previous year (138 in 2012-13 versus 40 in 2011-12).
In a statement to AccountingWEB, HMRC said: “Like all large organisations, it is inevitable that some of HMRC’s 64,000 staff will leave or retire, whilst others will join. This has not affected performance - the most accurate measure of the tax gap shows it is going down, last year’s yield was our biggest ever, and we carried out over 700 prosecutions. Since 2010 almost £1bn has been invested in HMRC to police the tax rules and more people are employed in our compliance posts than before.
“The popularity of our on-line services has enabled us to move staff away from the mass processing work of the past into more specialised and skilled work of tackling evasion and avoidance.”
Staff morale at HMRC has consistently been among the lowest of Whitehall departments since the merger between Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue in 2005. In the past few years, HMRC staff have held strikes in protest over changes to pension and job cuts.
HMRC has cut about 37,000 jobs since 2005, the Public and Commercial Services Union said last year. HMRC plans to cut a further 10,000 jobs by 2015 to reduce costs.
In July, AccountingWEB reported that a new job appraisal system may further alienate HMRC staff.
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.”