A huge market research project is to be launched by the Inland Revenue after it sacked its cartoon mascot, Hector, for being white, male and middle-aged.
Hector’s enforced retirement comes about as the Revenue’s newly appointed director of marketing, Ian Schoolar, begins work on research for a new marketing campaign to be launched in the summer.
There will no immediate replacement for Hector.
Commentators believe a vast amount of research is required at the Revenue, which is in the process, under board chairman Nick Montagu, of switching from an ‘enforcing’ to an ‘enabling’ role.
Peter Wyman, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the Revenue still has work to do to overcome the complexity of tax regulation but also said that it has created a structural problem by having so many people, around 7.5 million, completing self assessment forms. ‘Why are so many people filling in these forms? It strikes me as a hugely high number,’ he said.
Market research may help the Revenue better target just who should be self-assessed, he said.
Hector’s demise comes about largely as a result of the Inland Revenue’s switch in direction to become more customer friendly, but Montagu also made it clear that the character was not the right image for a department with a strong policy of recruitment from the ethnic minorities.
Hector is also said to have been increasingly offensive to female employees at the Revenue, many of whom occupy senior positions, including half the seats on the board. For more on Hector’s many guises, visit www.accountancyage.com/Tax/1100636.
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