Leaked memo shows HMRC could lose 300 jobs

A LEAKED MEMO has shown HM Revenue & Customs could be shedding as many as 300 jobs over the coming year, despite the chancellor’s pledge to increase the department’s budget during last week’s 2014 Budget address.

Mary Aiston, taxman’s director of specialist tax – which targets high-end taxpayers and complex cases – wrote that her unit will make the cuts by 2015 and will seek to deliver greater revenue with fewer resources, the Guardian reports.

The development starkly contradicts the message from George Osborne in his Budget last week.

He told parliament: “The public tolerance for those who do not pay their fair share evaporated long ago – but we’ve had to wait for this government before there was proper action.

“So today we go further still: I am increasing HMRC’s budget to tackle non-compliance.”

The message was posted on HMRC’s intranet under a section headed ‘Mary’s Diary’, and said it is hoped around half of the 300 figure will leave through “natural wastage”.

However, HMRC said it was simply re-deploying staff to other areas of the organisation where they were needed more.

“Looking at our plans,” Aiston wrote, “over 2014-15 specialist PT [personal tax] will be about 250-300 people smaller. We will do this by considering each role when people leave specialist PT, whether we need to fill their role and, if so, whether we can move someone into it who is already in specialist PT.

“We won’t be able to make all the changes we need to in this way (what’s often referred to as using ‘natural wastage’) but our plan at this stage is that roughly half of the reductions will be through natural wastage.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC is increasing resources to ensure our customers play by the rules, and is adopting a wide variety of approaches to tackle those that don’t. We are doing this by moving staff into roles where they are most needed.

“We have to take our share of efficiencies, but HMRC’s key role of collecting the revenues the country depends on is reflected in additional government funding for key areas such as compliance.

“Digital transformation is enabling us to move staff into compliance work focussed on tackling tax dodging. We have created 2,500 such roles which are more fulfilling and rewarding than old-style clerical, processing work.”

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