“And we need leaders – whatever their background – who truly value and encourage their staff. Valuing people and helping them to deliver their best starts at the top. And central to improving leadership is building confidence and accountability.”
So says Civil Service CEO John Manzoni. The RCTU completely agrees and we await the staff survey results with great anticipation as an empirical measure of this. It is heartening to report HMRC will not be 101/101 this year (in order from top scoring to bottom scoring) – there are only 98 organisations in the survey this year.
We will certainly be waiting to discuss the results with the employer – we look forward to the invitation to do so. Positive engagement with all sections of HMRC staff and their representatives is the key to improving the results.
The recent announcement that the so called “tax gap” has reduced must be acknowledged but like all statistics is able to be questioned notwithstanding the references to objectivity and independent verification that abound in the announcement. The measures and data sources are what we wonder about as the starting point for data extrapolation, evaluation and conclusion are shaped from that.
HMRC staff know full well that understanding risk on a geographical and trade sector basis, let alone the scope and breadth of the hidden economy, are key factors in any such calculation. Data evaluation and exploitation have been around as concepts for many years and the savage increase in data volume presents opportunities, challenges and pitfalls. Data is not an all singing and dancing panacea as recent statements that were made seem to indicate whereas the evidence and reality of the situation shows the opposite. It is not sufficient or prudent for an organisation that deals with the complexity and breadth of subjects that we do to base strategic decisions on untried and untested concepts.
It was wonderful to see HMRC staff well represented in the recent awards and our congratulations are extended to all who made the final list and the winners. To quote Jon Manzoni again “…we are committed to drawing on the talent of all our people, whoever they are, whatever their background, and to helping them progress.”
What continues to strike us is the perceived lack of understanding of the connectivity between deficient HR and PMR policies and general terms and conditions of employment and their impact in achieving the goals outlined in the above statement. Too often we see sections of staff having to struggle to highlight the impediments they endure when, while we have senior leader “champions”, there needs to be a holistic evaluation and action plan. Now is the time to change this.
This may be a month that HMRC staff will remember unfavourably for many many years. We have the Spending Review, Estate Announcements and the Autumn Statement. Cuts in budgets driven by strategic plans may make for extremely unpleasant times for many staff including those in the “regional centres”. The RCTU will set out our full overview before the estate announcements. We have a proven track record of defending locations from the threat of closure by taking the discussion direct to the employer. We do not see that leaving locations and staff to fight on their own is correct and that failed policy is evident from Workforce Change onwards from other organisations. Those in “regional centres” are not immune from location changes or spending cuts – we are all involved in this and only by uniting behind the intellectual evaluation of the reality of the evidence will we be able to defend HMRC – for that is what is at stake – the very future and existence of HMRC.