The Tory plan: put the accountants in charge of tax collection

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You know someone’s lost the plot when they put the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

This, apparently, is what The Treasury is planning to do at HMRC. According to the Mail (so this may be wrong — but it has the feeling of official briefing about it):

Ministers are secretly recruiting a squad of City experts to break an expected strike by tax collectors.

Treasury Ministers are drawing up plans to slash the number of taxmen as part of savage Whitehall spending cuts — but fear it will trigger a mass walk-out by staff at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Such a move, by the most heavily unionised Whitehall department, could plunge the public finances into even greater chaos.

Now, in the clearest sign yet that the Government is gearing up for a new ‘winter of discontent’, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has ordered the creation of a special unit of pinstriped strike-breakers to be sent into HMRC to work as emergency tax collectors.

The strike-breakers would range from envelope-openers at dozens of Revenue offices across the country to senior City accountants seconded to HMRC head office.

As the also say:

The Treasury’s resolve to shake up HMRC has been hardened by this month’s tax fiasco, when the department was forced to send out letters to 5.7 million taxpayers admitting it had miscalculated the sums they owed.

A Government source said: ‘There is an awful lot of bad blood between the Treasury and HMRC at the moment, a great deal of mutual suspicion. HMRC feels, justifiably, that the Treasury wants them to bear an unfair proportion of the cuts. If they are severe, there could be a mass walkout, which would paralyse the revenue-raising operation.’

So we have the madness being planned of giving the prisoners the key to the jail — for this is what this plan amounts to, and all because of a squabble between the two ends of 100 Parliament Street — one end of which is occupied by HM Treasury and the other by HM Revenue & Customs.

I note with interest Mike Warburton of Grant Thornton approves of this plan. Just think of the opportunity accounts will have to settle a few cases in their own favour whilst seconded to HMRC!

The madness of ConDem plans is being steadily revealed by the day. But this one has to be from beyond the boundaries of credibility.

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