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General News Updates

Monday, November 28, 2016

A News Update on several issues:





Autumn Statement




The RCTU has had brought to our intention some inconsistencies in the application of the changes recently announced to PMR and also some of the “same old same old”. Firstly let us go to the inconsistencies.


Different sections are applying different rules as was always the case. We have been told of instances where a statement is required of no more than 500 words even when you are “achieved” contrary to the new “guidance”. Similarly we see also sections where the new guidance is being applied to the enhancement of all. It is these inconsistencies that breed discontent. Why do they exist? There is no governance from outside of sections.


When we come to the same old same old we have instances where staff are being told they are “achieved”, then “moderated” and then told “needs development” – complete with a PIP/Poor Performance (not formal of course as that can be appealed unlike informal procedures and a “moderated mark”) and also even instances where people are told they “need development” against a statistic that is not even in their PMR. One instance reported to us even was where the officer was told that performance was “unsatisfactory” due to output (not that hard targets should exist especially where – but not exclusively – the volume of work was outside of an individual’s control to influence AND not in that person’s PMR)- shambolic is too kind a word.


This is the worst excesses of the “old” system. Meet the new – same as the old?


Now CEO Jon Thompson announces that soon he will have good news after speaking to the Cabinet Office about changes (reforms?) to PMR. We await that announcement with interest however the fundamental flaws as we have highlighted above must be tackled – we remain agnostic that they will be.


We know how to tackle them and would be pleased to work with HMRC to do so.





The feedback from BoF 5 (well some number anyway) has been tremendous to review. Some praising it to the hilt others disgusted to attend and have to smile, others utterly appalled at the blatant PR exercise – as they saw it. Whatever – it goes on despite the lack of any evidence that this is the correct strategic direction.


We have also been informed of anomalies with the 121 process which we are pursuing on behalf of members (basically the 121 you complete even before the actual location is known is FINAL and unless you appeal successfully or win a Grievance – that is the outcome – what happens if you move further away or the outcome was wrong but you did not appeal; the rules are so far silent - and also of a “survey”.


This “survey” – ostensibly to ask as to whether you will move to the regional centre is above and beyond the 121. It asks inappropriate questions. Why?


The questions:


Name and Grade – OK

Age Range – what has that got to do with it?

Part time or full time – err…ditto.

Line of Business – hmmm, sort of OK but again – why?

Building you work in - ditto

I expect to transfer – several answers possible

Reason I will not transfer – outside RDT or leaving (e.g. retirement)

What will do when you leave – several answers and none of them relevant in the slightest to HMRC?

Anything else that may influence your decision to move – several examples but allows the person to detail more


Evaluation – it asks questions that are of no relevance whatsoever and also have implications for employment law (age and working pattern as examples) and it also asks an entirely inappropriate question about what a person will do if they leave. The gathering of this information is incorrect and requires serious explanations from the employer. Until these are forthcoming we advise members not to complete such a “survey”,





To quote:


HMRC is facing its biggest ever recruitment challenge in a single year, needing to bring in up to 10,000 people during 16/17. HMRC are looking to recruit a significant number of AO Customer Service Consultants in many locations across the country. The Customer Service Consultant roles will be based in the following locations:

  • Bathgate
  • Birmingham
  • Bootle
  • Bradford
  • Cardiff
  • Cumbernauld
  • East Kilbride
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Portsmouth
  • Shipley


For those of a certain age please read “PT Ops”. But this is more than just that. It is a wide ranging role to “support customers”. We in the RCTU have nothing against that whatsoever. We do, however, have questions as to why and what the role actually is.


Why? – this reinforces over 10 years of bad planning and mistakes – the numbers are truly large (and somewhat staggering!) and it would be interesting to really understand how this impacts on other Department areas in terms of budgets and staffing levels. It also must be viewed strategically – in short there are questions to ask and be answered.


The role – it states


You will need to;

 have excellent telephone skills and be confident dealing with customers both orally and in writing;

 pursuing customers’ debt by telephony and correspondence;

 be helpful, customer-focused and never fazed by a deadline;

 have basic skills in using a range of computer systems including Microsoft Windows and Office; be able to navigate around internet-based programmes and be able to navigate effectively between different IT systems;

 be able to make yourself clearly understood in communications with customers and colleagues alike

 be flexible between call-handling and processing duties; flexibility is key to this role;

 work as a key part of our team to improve productivity and quality, and support the implementation of continuous improvement;

 meet the high standards of conduct and behaviour that is expected of a civil servant.


What would you do?

Your work will be handling incoming customer telephone calls.

In addition your duties will include:

 Replying to internal and external customer correspondence by email, telephone and webchat;

 Using various computer systems to update/maintain and create new customer records;

 Providing accurate information in a professional and helpful manner by collecting and assessing; relevant data and information from various sources;

 Processing electronic work & digital information;

 Handling more complex queries and issues, making sure they are all resolved quickly and efficiently;

 Identifying, recording and resolving customer complaints;

 Helping with general administrative duties.


Mostly these duties fall into the AO however there are some that are clearly Officer grade – this highlights the complete lack of governance over grading and the downward pressure on the O to SO grades – at the expense of the plethora of G7 and above “non jobs” (as was eloquently described to us by several members recently). We are extremely concerned that a significant part of the role is incorrectly graded. Yet again, questions need to asked and answered.



Autumn Statement


We welcome the news of investment in Counter Avoidance but with the caveat – what exactly? We welcome many of the measures announced that will help our members in doing their jobs and safeguarding tax revenues for the UK.


We noted that tucked away (page 47, paragraph 4.43 of the Treasury document of the AS – PDF version - to be precise) ) was a commitment to review VAT. “The

government has now asked the OTS to carry out reviews on aspects of the VAT system”


The impact here could be wide ranging on the many members who work in VAT. We would welcome your views with the thought of contributing on behalf of members. Newspaper articles highlighted the issues around food liability, clothes liability and in one instance called for more “exemptions”. Possibly they were oblivious to partial exemption?


Please Contact Us with your views as to whether we should contribute or not and if we do, and only if you say we should will we, what should we say.





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