100 signatures reached
To: Lin Homer, HMRC Chief Executive
Lin Homer - End Workfare in HMRC
We demand -
That HMRC do not participate in schemes where workers are unpaid.
That HMRC move all candidates currently working for free onto proper paid apprenticeship schemes.
That they ensure all apprentices undertaking such work receive appropriate security clearance; receive the same taxes training as existing staff; and are paid the rate of the job.
That the department is staffed with enough permanent staff to undertake all work required to keep our tax system up to date.
Why is this important?
We the undersigned condemn HMRC’s decision to bring in unpaid benefits claimants to undertake PAYE processing work on taxpayers records.
We note this comes at a time where HMRC is unable to deliver on its business targets due to chronic understaffing.
Movement to Work (MTW) is a government scheme aimed at 18-24 year olds who are not in education, employment or training. Officially a programme of vocational training and work experience, it actually is the latest incarnation of the government’s ‘workfare’ programme – providing employers free labour by making the unemployed work for their benefits.
The Civil Service is one of the core providers in this scheme, meaning that the government itself is one of the main beneficiaries of unpaid labour. In HMRC, the employer wants to double those brought in from 1,000 to 2,000, and if successful that number could increase even further. The potential for these placements to carry out work that should be done by paid staff, covering up staffing shortfalls in a climate of job cuts and office closures, is patently obvious.
Personal Tax has taken the brunt of job cuts in HMRC, with over 5,000 staff lost in the past five years. This has created a staffing crisis wherein the Department has failed to answer adequate numbers of calls and been left with huge backlogs of work, which they have then tried to cover up through the use of overtime and dragging workers out of other work areas (often with the result of additional backlogs there) to answer calls during peak times. The use of claimants is just another way to mask the backlogs.
Why employ additional staff if you can get the work done for free? Why offer existing staff overtime if you can draft in more claimants to do the job? Why bargain with the workforce through their trade union when it’s so easy to draft in the unemployed at no additional cost? Why take any steps to prevent further job losses or office closures with a reserve army of labour on call?
The first tranche of MTW placements in Bootle number just ten. But the potential for this number to increase exponentially remains a threat to our jobs and working conditions, especially as they are being put on Work Management Items, the contingency work for the AO grade in Personal Tax, at a time when the department wants to half the number of items on hand.
It must also be said that MTW is exploitation of the placements themselves. They are doing the work of paid staff for no more than their dole, and treated as a disposable resource by an unscrupulous employer who doesn’t want to pay the rate for the job or foot the bill for the actual number of staff needed.