Data loss report prompts unions to call for halt to jobs cull at HMRC

Civil Service unions have called on the government to halt its programme of job and budget cuts in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) following damning reports into the loss of child benefit data.

Two independent reviews into the circumstances surrounding the loss of child benefit records – including the personal details of 25 million people claiming child benefit – found that HMRC staff had low morale and were weary of change.

Ministers have imposed spending cuts in HMRC of 5% for each of the next three years. Thousands of jobs are to be axed, and scores of offices closed.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents staff, said extra resources were needed to prevent another data loss scandal.

Its general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “With the government cutting 25,000 jobs at HMRC and inflicting budget cuts [to] 2011, it is difficult to see how world-class IT standards can be achieved without additional resources. Especially when the additional funding for IT security has to come out of existing budgets.”

Jonathan Baume, general secretary of senior public servant union the FDA, added: “The issue at HMRC is that wide-scale change is taking place against the constant backdrop of ever-decreasing resources. Spending on data security is a priority. But it should not have to be at the expense of resourcing the pursuit of tax avoidance and evasion in all its forms.”

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