The latest in the series of announcements regarding the transformation of HMRC was made this week. There are several notable points in this announcement.
Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that HMRC is attempting to provide a lot of information to their staff within the strictures that they are operating in particularly in the area of commercial confidence where the release of detail may preclude the best possible outcome being achieved with public funds.
Secondly - the advent of Transitional Offices. This is new in that it acknowledges the adventurous statements that preceded it have had to be revised somewhat. One would wish to say that this is based on the realisation that much of the vaunted (and some have said wishful) thinking that the digital transformation would not only “enhance the customer experience” but also will deliver the proposed huge compliance enhancement has been analysed and therefore revised. Sadly it is probably down to money as evidenced by targeted “exit schemes” and the “attrition syndrome” as eloquently expressed by many in response to the article on the HMRC intranet.
The final notable point – the consultation. It is quite clear in the article that this is about “how to achieve the transformation” not whether it should happen. Basically “we will let you tell how us concerned you are, acknowledge those concerns and then proceed” not “we welcome your views based on your knowledge and experience which will provide a basis for us and you to work together to shape HMRC”. As more than one contributor said in the comments section to the article “wait until the staff survey”. On that point we note that the registration system for the staff survey was suffering difficulties this week due to the number attempting to log on. Good – not that there were problems in registering but good in that so many want to take part. The RCTU advocates maximum participation for only then will the fullest possible voice of the staff be heard. Yes, the interpretation of the results can be problematic but that can be addressed with logical and involved Trade Union participation.
So, BOF announcement made, much more to come in November – starting just days after the outcome of the Spending Review – and barring last minute “horse trading” senior leaders will have a very good idea of that hence this announcement and perhaps the reason for Transitional Offices.
Of course staff welcome new modern offices, more help for taxpayers and better career opportunities but, and this must be said, that some of the statements being made here are, ever so slightly, disingenuous in the context of change. These points can be achieved in other ways than “slash and burn”. The business must drive the estate not the other way around – a common theme expressed by many including senior operational management who have to say it quietly or risk being accused of failing to abide by the generic corporate PMR objective. Do not say the emperor has no clothes or else.
The real bottom line that must be advanced and that can only be done with knowledge and experience from you, is that flaws, serious flaws, continue to exist in the strategic direction not least in compliance activity planning and presumptions. The fact this has not been promulgated correctly and has such a profound impact on staff and UK plc is not a surprise when the one body that can put those views forward coherently and successfully is the RCTU and only by the continued fast growth we are experiencing will this have any chance of changing the current situation. As always, the future is still in your hands if you want it to be.