Staff quit HMRC in highest numbers since 2009

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Staff are quitting HMRC in their highest numbers for four years, with almost 1,700 employees leaving in the last 12 months, according to analysis from UHY Hacker Young, reports Harris & Co chartered accountants.

The firm’s research shows a total of 1,697 staff resigned from HMRC in 2012-13, the highest number since 2008-9, representing 2.65% of the total staff of 64,000 employees. This year’s figure is up slightly from the 1,629 who quit in 2011-12.

Roy Maugham, tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: ‘In the last couple of years, HMRC has suffered heavy losses in personnel. This latest increase in resignations is not good news for HMRC or the taxpayer, at a time when its effectiveness and quality of service are under intense scrutiny.’

UHY Hacker Young says staff resignations hit hard at the very top of HMRC, with nine senior civil servants quitting this year – the highest number for five years. Overall, by far the greatest losses were in personal tax which had 1,238 resignations. The benefits and credits department also saw a substantial increase in staff departures, with 138 leaving in 2012/13, three times as many as the year before when 40 went.

Maugham said: ‘It’s concerning to see such a high turnover of staff dealing with personal tax as this will have an impact on everyday taxpayers, who are often the most in need of guidance to ensure they get their tax affairs right. In addition, with all the changes going on in the benefits and tax credits system, the fact that HMRC is losing these staff in such numbers just when people need advice the most is not very reassuring.’

An HMRC spokesman said it is inevitable that some of its 64,000 staff will leave or retire, while others will join. ‘This has not affected performance - the accurate measure of the tax gap shows it is going down, last year’s yield was our biggest ever, and we carried out over 700 prosecutions,’ he said.

In addition, the spokesman said the switch to online services had made it possible to "move staff away from the mass processing work of the past into more specialised and skilled work of tackling evasion and avoidance".

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