Taxman in turmoil as morale plummets

A survey of national staff conducted late last year shows spiralling morale
levels, a decline in confidence in management and the department as a whole.

The survey, which more than 18,000 staff responded to, shows that 73% of
staff think either the department is ‘changing for the worse’, or ‘beginning to
change for the worse’.

Only 21% stated that they were ‘satisfied with this department at the present
time’, compared to 32% in May 2005.

The results suggest staff believe the merger is not progressing as well as
ministers and officials have claimed, with just 12% agreeing that ‘change is
well managed in this department’, down from 16% in May 2005.

It is not specified precisely what the causes of disaffection are, but the
prospect of 25,000 job cuts as part of the government efficiency programme are
likely to be significant.

Tax offices recently went on strike on 31 January, when self-assessment
returns are filed, and there is a constant threat of more industrial action.

The worries about morale and strikes will concern advisers who rely on an
efficiently run department to make their lives easier.

The findings present a major challenge to new HMRC chairman Paul Gray. Some
insiders believe that career civil servant Gray will prove more sensitive to
staff demands than his predecessor, businessman Sir David Varney.

An HMRC spokeswoman said the survey was conducted at a time of particular
uncertainty for staff, adding: ‘We take the survey findings seriously and value
this feedback from our staff.’

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