ARC urges MPs to push for greater investment in HMRC staff ahead of key Parliamentary debate

1 March 2011
(For immediate release)

ARC urges MPs to push for greater investment in HMRC staff ahead of key Parliamentary debate

ARC - the union representing senior staff in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - has urged MPs, ahead of the Estimates Day debate on HMRC in the House of Commons on Wednesday 2 March, to support increased investment in the department.

In advance of the debate, ARC has provided a written briefing to a number of MPs who have an interest in tax or HMRC issues, urging them to support increased investment in HMRC.

Estimates Day debates are chosen by the Liaison Committee, which is made up of the chairs of each of the select committees, and tend to focus on select committee reports or ongoing inquiries.

ARC President Graham Black said: "We are asking MPs to support increased investment in HMRC. ARC proposes greater emphasis and investment in closing the tax gap as an alternative to public sector cuts or tax increases. Every developed economy has a tax gap. It is the difference between the amount of duty and tax due under the law and the amount taxpayers pay voluntarily. HMRC recently estimated the size of the UK Tax Gap as over £50bn, equivalent to an extra £1,000 of tax for every adult in the country.

"HMRC action managed to reduce the gap by about £12bn last year, but ARC believes that far more can be done to reduce the size of the tax gap and therefore reduce the budget deficit. It cannot be right that, at a time when every family in the UK is being asked to make significant personal sacrifices to reduce the deficit, tax cheats are depriving the Exchequer of more than £50bn each year."

Notes for editors

1. The Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) is a union representing senior staff in HM Revenue and Customs, including tax inspectors, accountants, lawyers, managers and other leading professionals. ARC represents around 2,600 members in HMRC at grade 7 and above, and also trainees in grade 7 entry schemes. It is also a section of the FDA.

2. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. On Wednesday 19 January the Treasury Sub-Committee, as part of its inquiry into the Administration and Effectiveness of HMRC took evidence from Graham Black, President, and Terry Cook, former President, Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC). Further information on this inquiry can be found at:

5. ARC published a report Being Bold - a Radical Approach to Raising Revenue and Defeating the Deficit on 8 September 2010. It led the way in urging the Government to increase the number of tax professionals in HMRC to tackle tax cheats and raise funds for the Exchequer. Despite pledges for additional reinvestment (£917m), regrettably, the Government announced a month later that HMRC resources would be cut by 15% over the next four years. This adds up to ten years of successive cuts.

6. ARC members are senior HMRC professionals engaged in work that brings in the majority of the £12bn tax gap closure delivered by HMRC last year. This work is incredibly cost effective. An ARC member earning £50k can expect to generate additional yield of at least £1.5m each year; a return of 30 times their cost. For every £1 of yield the Exchequer benefits by an additional £1 through the deterrent effect of this work both on the subject of the compliance intervention and on those who might be tempted to cheat on their taxes. The recent public outrage over tax avoidance and evasion demonstrates that people want a tax system that is fair to all. This can only be achieved if HMRC has sufficient resources to tackle tax avoidance and evasion across all sectors.

7. Estimates of spending are presented to Parliament and three 'estimates days' are set aside each year to debate the content of those estimates presented. In practice, estimates days are often used for debating one or more estimates or select committee reports chosen by the Liaison Committee.

8. Graham Black, ARC President, is available for comment.

9. For further information contact:

  • Graham Black, ARC President, tel: 020 7401 5559 or 07766 497976.
  • Debbie Stamper, ARC officer, tel: 020 7401 5555.
  • Graham Flew, ARC officer, tel: 020 7401 5555.