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A whole lot of news …

Monday, October 24, 2016

There’s a whole lot of news in this update …


In the news:

VOA Budget





Staff Survey

Changes to DTA

Tax Gap


VOA Budget


There is around 3,500 staff in the VOA at present. By 2020 it will be cut by 1,000, employees were told. The employer  states “hopefully and mostly by natural wastage” due to the fact of the current demographics – of course this is not as reliable as it was in the past due to the changes in retirement age flexibility and the new adverse pension arrangements.

The VOA budget in all areas will have a budget cut of 29%.

The employer states “IT and Digital Skills are the way forward” with (CI) Continuous Improvement also possibly borrowing elements from Lean and Pacesetter in the future.

The general feeling among the feedback we have is that these cuts will not be able to deliver the business and the IT (digital) proposals are “adventurous”. The impact on staff will be severe and cuts of this size will force office closures and degradation of service.


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Please do not spend your 1% (if you are lucky and with the demographics referred to above it is more likely for most staff that this is non consolidated) at once !

What worries the RCTU even more, if that was possible, is the entrenching of regional pay.

We would welcome the view of VOA members to these two items of news.


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The sheer joy that staff greeted the announcements of Phase 5 of BOF was really something to behold. The comments on the Intranet said what the vast majority of staff thought. BOF 5 is “focusing on HMRC’s culture and values – what they are now, what we want them to be, and how we bridge the gap.”

To quote the CEO “I want to lead an organisation that is diverse, inclusive and vibrant. We all need to feel that our organisation has values that we understand and share, and that we have a culture where everyone feels supported and respected and can give their best every day. 

This is admirable and it is taken in good faith by the RCTU but the responses from staff show just how huge that gap really is. The reality for staff is nothing short of chaos and less than pleasant working conditions. The future for many is bleak even if you are in a regional centre. The workload is onerous and growing and really it is time for a reality check. (more below on the Staff Survey).

That said there is only one way to confront the truth – let it be told by those who have only the interests of HMRC and the staff as their reason for existing – the RCTU. Only we have the experience and knowledge to impart to the CEO and his new evolving team of senior leaders (we note the new Chief People Officer – also from the MOD coincidentally) the reality of HMRC.


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Making Tax Digital

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is subject to 243 pages and 116 consultation questions in seven consultation documents for the Accountancy Community and UK Businesses. A recent Webinar – perhaps an easier way to understand and comment of the proposals – hosted the HMRC MTD team with the Accountancy Community received a fair amount of negative reaction. We carefully look at what not just what staff say but those who work in UK and who use HMRC services and also play a vital role in delivering tax correctly and on time.

The feedback (and these comments are reflective of all the comments – we found none in favour and we did look) was hardly positive ranging from “the whole hideous plan is fundamentally flawed” via “A much more pragmatic approach ….. is what is called for and a significant delay or re-think on MTD altogether would be of significant help” through to various comments that the HMRC team obviously believe in this but do not seem to listen (there were specific comments that we really do not want to share about the team as they are only doing what they have been asked to do and we do not blame messengers among our colleagues).

There is a growing consensus that MTD is not workable nor will it provide the panacea that HMRC senior leaders seems to imagine it will. Obviously with office closures and staff reductions based on this and growing external opposition is it not time to have a re-think?

The sad truth is that RISK is currently significantly understated and from that incorrect base future developments flow – ones that are not conducive to a modern tax service, HMRC or the UK.


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Civil Service Compensation Scheme 

The failure at all levels to look after existing staff in all locations must the priority and it is hardly helped by the proposed changes to the CSCS. The deadline for a response to accept the proposals is 31/10/16. The further caveat is: 

“This offer is conditional on acceptance by a sufficient number of unions, which the Minister for the Cabinet Office considers appropriate to constitute an agreement.”

Failure to meet the “sufficient number” clause means the lesser proposal will be implemented without further negotiations.

Feedback from RCTU members so far is to accept the better proposal even though there are reservations about several facets of this.

The RCTU NEC will make a final decision by 26/10/16 based solely on what members want.

Full details of the proposal and the “lesser deal” are in the Membership News section of this website. We promise to ensure you are not held hostage to the political whims of others and that your voice is heard.


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Staff Survey

It is that time again!

It is the firm opinion of the RCTU that all staff should complete the staff survey to give fullest vocal expression of their thoughts and views. Recent conversations we have been involved in or have heard reinforce the need for the views of the disenfranchised to be heard. And from what we see, they most certainly are this year and that should continue.

Take the time – let senior leaders really know the truth – as far as that can be conveyed in the survey.

We would also be extremely interested to gauge the impact of Own to Act in your section of work. Has it made a difference for the better? All replies will be treated in confidence.

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Daily Travelling Assistance

Finally something we have been advocating for quite some considerable time has happened. DTA is now available for all those souls that can travel to a Regional Centre or Transitional Office on level or promotion. Before this change DTA was only available in very few instances.

It does provide some help (as does the rent deposit scheme but that also speaks volumes about how pay has been degraded) but for many such a move remains problematic or impossible. We will not say “no thanks” but we have also noted the remarks from members “that this is another way of saving the now reduced redundancy payments”. That says it all – when employees see such changes as less than honest gesture when the opposite is meant.

A word to the wise – travel is debilitating and you should carefully consider your personal situation before entering into such a move.

DTA should be available for ALL moves where additional costs are incurred – not subject to additional criteria and “whims”.

We still consider BOF fundamentally flawed and without any true business case foundations that stand up to scrutiny when both the tangible and intangible are taken into account. It requires reality medicine – aspects are correct in principle – other aspects will be completely wrong when implemented


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Tax Gap

In offices that we were in or received reports from the announcement that this is at the lowest ever level (6.5%) was greeted with much mirth. It is very hard to reconcile this with what is happening in reality. Now we can all argue about how this is calculated (and it is more circumspect that one might imagine) but the old adage of “garbage in” does apply. That coupled with yield issues (the perennial FRB and in particular VAT this year – warnings were given and ignored and it is not just the targets but the whole approach).

Any statement that this reflects on the Prevent and Promote strategies should be dismissed out of hand as it is incorrect – completely. We are entering territory we prophesised was coming – a little earlier maybe than we thought but happening none the less. As our main recommendations from early 2014 have been accepted and implemented (LB into Compliance, merge SI/CI and the emerging thinking on reorganising – yes more to come – the holistic compliance approach) we feel completely correct in stating that the tax gap is greater than 6.5%. 

How can we change this? Stop and talk to members we represent. Please do so before it is too late. Thank you (and hopefully not the last one out switch off the lights and goodnight).


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