A lobby group that works to improve policy and processes in the tax and welfare system to help people on low incomes has saluted the efforts of the “invisible cohort” of civil servants engaged in the government’s pandemic response.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, which was set up by the Chartered Institute of Taxation but has secondees from HM Revenue and Customs, said it wanted to put on record its thanks to behind-the-scenes efforts of departmental staff.
It said that at a time when many people were finding ways to show their thanks to those at the forefront of dealing with Covid-19 – such as NHS staff and other emergency services – it was crucial that the less high-profile efforts of other public servants were acknowledged.
“Just a month ago, we could not have imagined the position the country would now be in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” the group said.
“The government has announced unprecedented support for employees and businesses, aimed at easing the economic impacts of the self-isolation and social distancing measures required to shield the population – and particularly the most vulnerable – from the disease.
“Civil servants are working around the clock to try to deliver the support that has been announced.
“We should remember that it is not an easy task to produce, almost overnight, systems and processes to get support to people who desperately need it. Especially when they themselves have a reduced workforce as a result of the current situation.”
Last week it emerged that at least two HMRC staff have lost their lives to Covid-19, with the PCS union calling on the department to act more swiftly to close offices when cases are identified.
LITRG said it wanted to thank HMRC and their Treasury colleagues, in particular, for the efforts made so far to get guidance out on the support that is being offered – and for being willing to engage with it to make sure people on low incomes got the information they needed.
“We know that the schemes may not cover every set of circumstances and we will continue to highlight areas of particular concern on behalf of those we represent,” the group said.
“We also know that the guidance does not yet answer many of the questions that are being asked, but we hope by working together it can be expanded over the next few weeks.
“That does not stop us all taking time out to recognise the important work being done by civil servants in helping to keep the country’s wheels turning at this difficult time.”