Staff morale at HMRC damaged by ongoing change programmes

Staff morale at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is at “a low ebb” because of ongoing change programmes, according to the government spending watchdog.

HMRC plans to spend £2.7bn over the next three years to provide a more efficient, customer-focused organisation. Ministers expect to achieve benefits valued at £11.5bn.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that 18 months into the ambitious programme to transform the department, HMRC had spent £851m, and achieved estimated benefits of £2.4bn. But the NAO warned that staff morale was suffering.

“In any change programme, staff satisfaction might be expected to decline and recent surveys indicate morale remains at a low ebb,” the report said.

“The department needs to more actively demonstrate the benefits to its staff and manage the expectations of customers as many of the improvements for them are scheduled for 2011 and beyond.”

NAO chief Tim Burr said: “This is an ambitious programme of change with the potential to provide significant benefits in terms of tax yield and improvements for the department’s customers. To succeed, the department must determine what it expects the programme to achieve with the resources available.”

A government capability review last year highlighted fundamental weaknesses in HMRC leadership. The review also said the top team lacked the right kind of external support, expertise and challenge to carry out its responsibilities effectively.

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