More than 70,000 HMRC staff are due to begin an overtime ban today (6 July), in a bid to expose the amount the department relies on overtime to “mask” job cuts.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is calling on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to employ permanent staff rather than rely on routine overtime to cover the loss of 17,000 jobs over the past three years.
During that period, PCS claims the department has become increasingly reliant on using overtime and temporary staff to clear backlogs of work and post which have built up due to job cuts.
Just in the processing area of HMRC alone, £4.5m, or 10% of the area’s budget, was spent in the past financial year on overtime. This money would be better invested in permanent staff to provide a better service and to chase the £25.8bn of uncollected tax, PCS has argued.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “HMRC’s growing reliance on overtime to mask 19,000 job cuts is unsustainable and unacceptable. Services to the public are suffering as the department seeks to cut a total of 25,000 jobs by 2011.”
He added: “The department should be hiring staff rather than firing them and spending millions on overtime to clear backlogs and get the work done.”
An HMRC spokesman told Personnel Today: “HMRC is disappointed with the decision reached by the PCS Union. We are committed to ensuring that it will be business as usual during this period, and we will continue to deliver a high standard of customer service. We are confident that there will be no disruption to the services we provide to our customers.”
He confirmed that staff numbers had reduced by about 17,000 from about 105,000, as part of a strategy to improve HMRC’s efficiency by 5% year-on-year to 2011. “So far HMRC has achieved all staff reductions and efficiency targets without compulsory redundancies and it remains our intention to avoid them wherever reasonably possible,” he said.