author-avatar author-avatar

Tax Justice Network, André Luiz Fonseca Fernandes ■ HMRC, Building an Uncertain Future: The cuts don’t work

DOWNLOAD REPORT
Tax justice reports
Tax justice reports

HMRC, Building an Uncertain Future: The cuts don’t work

This report sets out the views of HMRC staff based on analysis of a highly representative survey on the effects of British government plans for HMRC’s vital role, including a huge round of job cuts and building closures called “Building Our Future”.

This report asks what dedicated members of staff think about HMRC and its plans for the future. This report sets out the views of HMRC staff based on analysis of a highly representative survey.

HMRC is embarking on a huge round of job cuts and building closures called “Building Our Future” and proposes a system of tax collection based on digital technology. However, the majority of its staff think these plans will negatively affect its staff and its ability to collect tax and enforce tax compliance.

This report looks at the department’s track record of change over recent years, and analyses the department’s plans for the future. The analysis is based on the survey of staff working in HMRC, as well as a study of official government reports and documents, reports from the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee as well as other relevant documents such as the annual reports of large accountancy firms.

The report concludes that HMRC should listen to its staff and consult the public and parliament about its plans. It recommends that HMRC should:
Halt the implementation of “Building Our Future”
Halt the privatisation of further HMRC functionsUndertake a public consultation about the future of the department, including their plans for office closures, privatisation and digitalisation
Subject their estimate of the tax gap to independent scrutiny
Consult with recognised Trade Unions and HMRC staff about a strategy to retain existing staff, develop in-house services and to increase staff with the aim of reducing the tax gap.
(The survey data was collected in February, prior to the EU Referendum. This report does not cover the implications for the department as a result of Brexit.)

Key findings

  • The report exposes that HMRC staff are highly critical of “Building Our Future”; with nearly three quarters of staff saying that the plans will have a negative impact on staff.
  • The survey responses show that HMRC’s ability to collect tax is intrinsically linked to its ability to retain the skills and experience of its staff.
  • “Building Our Future” risks large numbers of staff leaving the department as offices are closed.
  • Over 55% of respondents told us that “Building Our Future” will have a negative impact on the ability of the department to collect tax and to enforce compliance.
  • The most important conclusion from this report is that HMRC should listen to its staff.

Key recommendations

  • Halt the implementation of “Building Our Future”
  • Halt the privatisation of further HMRC functionsUndertake a public consultation about the future of the department, including their plans for office closures, privatisation and digitalisation
  • Subject their estimate of the tax gap to independent scrutiny
  • Consult with recognised Trade Unions and HMRC staff about a strategy to retain existing staff, develop in-house services and to increase staff with the aim of reducing the tax gap.

Additional resources