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Budget 2015 Mk.2

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

When is a Budget not a Budget? When it is followed by a Spending Review.


In the past a Spending Review would come before a Budget so the holistic picture and clarity exists for the Department. Not so this time and tellingly in the announcement made to staff by HMRC senior management is the phrase “as we will still face pressures on our budgets over the long term”.




Thank you for your hard work raising the money the UK so vitally needs. Thank you for the pay detriment you have already had from a inefficient and structurally deficient pay system, government public sector pay caps, the change in your pension (that of course is shared with the PCS failing to take legal action), the inflation of the past 5 years, the impact on you from cuts in budgets not only in HMRC but across the full spectrum of the public sector (we are of course, UK citizens too)

Thank you and to reward you all … here is another pay cap (sorry – PAY CUT) for 4 years.


There is no “economic recovery” for HMRC staff. Over 10 years of sustained and deep pay cuts – longer in some cases - for the hard working staff in HMRC.


Failure to invest in the people who are vital to the success of UK plc is wrong. It’s as simple as that.


While the re-branded National Minimum Wage will help some of the lower paid staff in HMRC it does not go anywhere near enough to address the other changes to Tax Credits (let alone the issue that a so called premier Government department pays staff so little that they have to claim Tax Credits) - so coupled all together we still have poorly paid staff. The other added factor – excluding Tax Credits, Universal Credit or whatever the “brand” will be – is how this impacts on pay differentials. It will impact and the coupled with the increasing mantra from senior management “that staff are too grade fixated” (which means “flexibility”, “development opportunities” and “interesting work”) will further undermine the grade structure allowing to what amounts to the down-grading of work which is another … pay cut.


HMRC staff are needed and they are vitally important to the UK. Only when that fact is harnessed and used intelligently will we see any successful challenge to the disgraceful state of affairs with regards to pay and rewards.


And yes – flexibility and working patterns that “reflect our customers” will cost and must reward staff for the impact that has on their lives – if you have a Trade Union that knows how to negotiate. We do.


HMRC Investment

This is on two levels. Firstly we have to understand what is meant by “transformation”. Yes there has been a significant investment in HMRC from the Budget – some of that – if not most - is for “transformation”. This is BoF. BoF is on at least two levels (again !)– digital and estates. BoF estates is the one that concerns us. There remain unanswered questions in this area mainly because they have not been explained sufficiently and also because no representative body has asked them ! Not only that – some of the “visions” need robust challenges as the impact on real compliance has not been adequately explained. This is the core work of HMRC. Every day another “trial” seeps out of the woodwork designed to limit location specific work.  There are some benefits in approaching this from a “broader coverage” point of view but serious and real concerns exist about the efficacy when it is being constrained about how yield is measured and how work will be seen as “addressed” when clearly there is the need for escalation but that may not happen for many reasons – structural for one but mainly as we will have little or no staff able to respond geographically. Even if they could respond; the inefficiency, on many levels, of travelling and not working damage productivity, work life balance and compliance impact. There are too many assumptions and too many unanswered questions in the BoF estate plan – they must be challenged using your experience and knowledge.


Money to enhance, improve and innovate digital interfaces with customers is correct but the assumption (again) that this will solve core compliance issues is overstated. It will help but is not a single panacea.


Secondly – any investment that is directed towards greater compliance (provided we actually do some and frankly we all know that one of the announcements here in this section is an open joke among staff) is to be applauded but as always it is the detail that matters. The greater investment in the Hidden Economy is but one example but that brings questions – not least that if HMRC can identify more of this activity – which is excellent news for legitimate businesses – how will we tackle it? By sending a letter? No – “boots on the ground” is the way forward and that of course leads us back to BoF estates (shall we also mention Pay and patterns of attendance?). Square that circle anyone?


Lastly we come back to Spending Review later this year – what else is “up the sleeve” here? Who is talking to and engaging senior management and fighting your corner? Who can?

We can.


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