As tax collectors go on strike this week over the loss of another 5,000 staff and the closure of 281 local tax offices, critics are letting loose on how HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) could sharpen up and collect more money for the Treasury.
Strikes are being held across Wales and North West England today (30 July), Scotland and the Midlands tomorrow. On 1 August, London, the South East, South West and East of England, Yorkshire and Humberside and Northern Ireland will see strike action.
One critic has described the strikes as “mind-blowingly self-defeating” but ARC, the union for HMRC managers, says that investing £312m in staff raises £8bn in tax.
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which has organised the walkouts, said that HMRC plays an essential role in the UK’s economy and society. By collecting the taxes that fund the other public services everyone relies on. He added that it is unfortunately being systematically undermined by unnecessary and politically motivated cuts.
However, a spokesperson for HMRC said that the department is very disappointed by the timing of the decision by PCS to call a strike to coincide with the tax credits renewals deadline of 31 July.
They added that the Revenue will do everything it can to minimise the impact on tax credits claimants and urged them to renew online to avoid the long delays that the strike will cause on the phone.
However, the union said that the strikes were timed to coincide with the deadline for tax credit renewals, as well as a key date for self-assessment payments. The walkouts follow a series of rolling stoppages last month.