70,000 HMRC staff are refusing to work overtime as a response to job cuts and deskilling of the workforce. The overtime ban was initiated by the Public and Commercial Services Union who felt that the job cuts were responsible for the backlogs in certain HMRC departments. This spells bad news for taxpayers who are making appeals to the HMRC Investigations Unit as the existing backlogs are increasing, leaving taxpayers waiting longer for a response. Six out of ten taxpayers report having to spend more time and money over the past year to deal with Revenue issues.
The Public and Commercial Services Union said that the situation was likely to “get worse, with less and less staff and not enough hours in the day to get the job done.”
Of course, the HMRC workload is likely to increase following the formal investigation into the MP expenses scandal as a number of unnamed MPs still owe tax on their questionable Commons allowance claims. David Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax said that all 644 had been asked to declare any unpaid tax while the investigations are ongoing.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hartnett said, “There are a number that we will need to talk to. That will lead to temporary increase in the number of investigations.”
Revenue staff have admitted that staff morale is at an all time low. If morale affects work practices, this could potentially have a serious impact on low income earners who are relying on those staff to accurately assess their situation.
The Low Income Tax Reform Group surveyed HMRC workers and found that only 11% of staff felt that their teams were adequately managed. Less than 20% said that HMRC was a good place to work while around half of all respondents said that they were not given everything that they needed to do their job effectively.