Unpaid Tax? Consult! Sunday, May 11 2008 

Apparently my former employers HM Revenue and Customs are confused about why the ‘Collectable Balance’ (the amount of tax owed/not paid on time) has gone up.

Over the past 3 years they have cut a total of 13,000 jobs, of which about 2-3000 will be Tax Collectors, centralised as much as they could and moved to call centres so they could close local offices.

Where they have centralised they have found that the people didn’t want to follow the job, so they have had to recruit people, while experienced staff are encouraged to leave.  The new people get just a minimal amount of training, and those in call centres basically just read from a script that the computer presents in response to the callers answers (a bit like those pick your own story books).  There is a concerted effort to stop people using their local tax office, and try to get them to do everything online.  The turnover in the call centres is thought to be 50% per year.

The call centres are only allowed to answer 3 questions maximum, and must not advise on anything they are not asked directly (This used to cause me all sorts of problems.  Because the call centre staff didn’t remind the member of the public- sorry ‘customer’- of things that we in the local offices would, the ‘customer’ would think every thing was fine. Until they got their Tax Credits stopped.  During the phone call to get them re-instated the ‘Advisor’ was not allowed to tell them exactly what the consequences were.  So I ended up with lots of people who didn’t understand how they owed back £000’s of pounds THEY WERE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO.).  Answers to questions from staff to the Boardnever actually said ‘Quantity not Quality’ but made it clear that what was expected.

So now tax receipts are down, just as the Union warned.  Senior management can’t understand it. Less staff, but less work gets done.  What is the solution? Hire top Accountants/consultants KPMG for a month to see if they can work it out.

The Board of HMRC- I hope this proves they are incompetent, because as far as I can see, the only other explanation is they are corrupt.

Women- so picky with presents (and guess the “pronouns”) Saturday, May 10 2008 

For our wedding “we” asked for DIY vouchers. (“we” did).

What “we” want is a patio area with a L shaped brick wall at the end, so last summer “we” dug a trench totalling 6m, by half a metre, by about 50cm deep. “We” put in about 25cm of hardcore, but it couldn’t get finished due to the bad weather. So over the bank holiday “we” laid foundations. This involved “us” moving 3/4 ton of various aggregates/cement etc, and laying 1/2 ton of concrete.

To do this “we” spent about £60-£70 of vouchers. This was wrong. Apparently the wedding present was for nice things (like the wall). The explanation ‘If you want the freaking wall, you have to have the freaking concrete’ does not cut any ice with “us” (although our 12 year old understood the concept).

(“we” now need to learn how to brick lay)