The union representing staff at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned that strike action will be inevitable unless the government backs down on spending cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review.
In its spending review earlier this afternoon the government announced spending cuts of 15% at HMRC up to 2014-15.
HMRC has already cut more than 17,000 jobs since the merger between Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise in 2005.
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union told Accountancy Age: “At some point industrial action will be inevitable if the government does not change its course.”
He urged the government to recruit more staff to HMRC to help boost its crackdown on tax avoidance.
In response, HMRC said in a statement: ”We have worked closely with the unions and will continue to do so. Leslie Strathie, HMRC CEO, will be meeting the unions next week. We will continue to work closely with the departmental unions on our workforce planning on offices and staff numbers.”
Richard Mannion, national tax director at Smith & Williamson, said that strike action or an overtime ban by HMRC staff could have a cumulative impact on the quality of service, with tax advisers having to wait longer for their phone calls or letters to be answered. “Industrial action can have a knock-on cumulative affect,” Mannion said.
Philip Fisher, tax partner at PKF, said the cuts were “incomprehensible”. “The Revenue is already unable to do its job adequately so a further cut makes no sense. The announcement that there is to be £900m ring fenced to combat tax evasion and fraud is positive, but conflicts with such a large cut,” he said.
In March, HMRC staff staged a two-day strike in protest against changes to redundancy pay.
The drive towards a fully digital tax regime is an admirable one, but mandation is simply wrong, according to one of the UK's most senior tax technology practitioners - Paul Aplin
Does Darwin's theory apply to taxation? Colin ponders...
The UK tax gap fell in 2014-15 to its lowest-ever level of 6.5%, revealed official statistics published today
"The whole idea of HMRC officials supplying confidential information about individuals to the media on a non-attributable basis is, or should be, a matter of serious concern," say Supreme Court judges