Chancellor Philip Hammond has been chastised for lauding the work of HM Revenue & Customs staff in driving increased tax collection without rewarding them by ending the 1% cap on public sector pay rises in his Autumn Budget.
The Association of Revenue and Customs, which represents senior staff in HMRC, applauded the government’s plans to invest £155m in resources and new technology for the non-ministerial department – measures aimed at tackling avoidance and boosting recovery rates.
But union president Vicky Johnson said Hammond could not “simply rely on the goodwill of public servants to deliver the plans” in the face of ever-growing pressure on members real pay and their terms and conditions.
“The chancellor rightly used his budget statement to shout about the extra £160bn in tax revenue that HM Revenue & Customs staff have managed to bring in for the nation since 2010 – yet he’s completely missed the chance to back the people who’ve made that possible,” she said.
“Vague talk of ending the 1% cap on public sector pay will not cut it with HMRC staff, the vast majority of whom are not covered by pay review bodies, and who have faced year-upon-year of real-terms pay cuts.
“While he was keen to take credit for their achievements today, the chancellor has sadly ducked yet another chance to properly acknowledge the hard work of those skilled HMRC staff who work every day to keep our public services funded. Only a fair and fully-funded pay rise can put this right.”
According to the Treasury’s Red Book for the budget announcements, the £155m package of measures is targeting £2.3bn of additional tax revenues by using new technology to tackling the “hidden economy”, and stepping up measures to combat marketed tax-avoidance schemes.
It also aims to crack down on those described as “enablers of tax fraud”, increase the ability of staff to tackle non-compliance with tax rules amongst medium-sized businesses and the rich, and recover greater amounts of tax debt that is more than nine months old by creating a new taskforce.