February 26, 2011

HMRC. Not Too Bright.

Not just dim, but criminally negligent.

Dave over at Lawful Rebellion sent me this FOI a few days ago. I asked if it was ok to run a piece on it and he kindly said yes.

There are some big numbers in here. I know that we are used to hearing about the USA's $14 trillion debt, and our own £4 trillion debt, so when we talk about billions, we are almost blasé about it.

When it comes to incompetence, I think we should be looking for those responsible. Then we should send them to gaol. For a very long time. These idiots have no business (mis)handling these huge sums of money.

Dave wanted to know how much was lost due to "official error". The staggering figure is below.

Here we go:

"Date - 11 November 2010

Our ref - FOI 2364/10

Dear Mr Ophalus
Freedom of information request

The Department has now considered your request of 17 October made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA.)

Your request

I would like to find out the percentage split in this statement: “Fraud in the benefit and tax credit system is estimated to cost the taxpayer around £1.5 billion a year, while a further £3.5 billion is accounted for by errors by officials or claimants.” So – of this £3.5 billion, what percentage is errors of officials and claimants please?

HMRC response

The information used to provide the statement you refer to is published in the Parliamentary response to Lord Beecham on 28 October 2010, Lords Hansard columns WA330 – WA331. This is available on the Parliamentary website at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/101028w0001.htm#10102831000612 I have reproduced the table of information and notes below:

The figure of £5 billion for fraud and error is a rounded figure. The estimate of monies lost to benefit and tax credit fraud and error is £5.2 billion. This is broken down as follows:

Benefits 2009/2010

Fraud - £1.0 billion

Customer Error - £1.1 billion

Official Error - £1.1 billion <<<<<

Tax Credits 2008/09

Fraud - £0.5 billion

Customer Error - £1.6 billion


1. The figure for benefits is a preliminary estimate for 2009/10
2. The figures for tax credits are central estimates for 2008/09 (the latest figures available)
3. There are no figures available for administrative error in tax credits
4. When totalled, the individual elements shown in the table above total £5.3 billion. This is due to rounding
5. HMRC is responsible for the delivery of tax credits

The latest estimates of fraud and error in the benefits system can be found at:
The latest estimates of fraud and error in the tax credits system can be found at:

Back to me.

I have removed some stuff that didn't seem important. The logo wouldn't transfer easily, and I am reasonably confident that you are happy with this piece being reproduced in English, and that you did not need the links to translations in 143 different languages.

My question is this: will those responsible for this humongous loss of money be fired, or tried and punished? Or will they merely shrug and say "Shit happens"? £1.1 Billion is a lot of money and I need to know that my taxes, as punitive as they are, are being handled properly. It seems they aren't. And all that does is make me resolve NOT to pay them in the first place.

I know that if I screwed up on even a tiny fraction of the scale shown here, I would be queuing up down at the dole office. And rightly so.

Why do we do nothing? What can we do? What should we do?

Does this happen every financial year? Dave only asked about a specific period, but would we be horrified to learn that it happens each and every year? (I now strongly suspect that it does).

I don't see any point in giving them over half my salary every year just so that they can lose it. 



mescalito said...

Ha, idiots, they just sent me a fine for £100 for not submitting my tax return but they addressed it to MR H SHETH, who the fucks that? my persons called MR S WHITEHEAD.


Captain Ranty said...


Send it back saying that MR H SHETH does not live here.

Let them go and find this mythical person...


mescalito said...

will do :)

Francis Urquhart said...

You make a good point, Captain.edaug

Mark Wadsworth said...

It's not just the £5 billion for actual fraud and error that matters (underpaid and evaded taxes are probably £10 billion - £20 billion), it's the fact that DWP costs about £10 billion a year to run.

So that's £15 billion cost to the taxpayer which doesn't even get to normal people who are supposed to get it, and I am quite sure that as much again doesn't get claimed by people who are too intimidated.

And then there's £40 billion or so a year in pensions tax breaks that get sucked up by the pensions 'industry'.

Which is argument number 12 for replacing the entire welfare state, personal allowances and tax breaks for pensions with a flat rate of tax and universal benefits (like Child Benefit, i.e. £x flat cash per week for everyone, amount depending on age, citizenship and not much else).

Captain Ranty said...


And just exactly when are you chasing election?

You have my vote already.

We need an overdose of common sense.


F***W*T TW****R said...

Same old civil service chestnut, no one, but no one will take responsibility for anything.

Anonymous said...

The whole fucking welfare system is a joke. Recent personal example. My son was made redundant and got a part time zero hour contract in a local shop. 2 months ago he earned £10 over the £402 monthly limit, housing benefits and his partners dole was immediately stopped. Last month he got zero hour and zero wages and he has to start all the benefit claims all over again (don't forget to claim for a backdate or you will only get it from the date on the forms). Job creation or what? The incentive for him to try and support himself, his partner and child is pretty damn slim.

There has to be a better way.

By the way above 16 hours per week he is working for £1 per hour net after benefit adjustments. Above 30 hours he is better off on benefits and not working at all.

Woodsy42 said...

Doesn't matter how much HMRC lose, the top dogs will get their bonuses and pension top ups just the same.

Angry Exile said...

I don't see any point in giving them over half my salary every year just so that they can lose it.

It'd be nice to send 'em half a cheque.

Pirran said...

I used to work for HMRC on a temporary contract a number of years ago. I know, but I was between jobs and it seemed a useful fill-in.

God, was I wrong. I have never seen such an incidence of bullying, incompetence and cynicism in all my working life. Targets were all that mattered, individuals were irrelevant. I came across married couples in their 80's STILL paying tax because their codes had never been corrected. It was met with a shrug and I was told to ignore it (I didn't). Codes that seemed wrong were "fixed" by deleting them from the database and recorded as another happy taxpayer added to the target. I saw thousands of these personally in just a few months.

The "Compliance" section used to send round emails asking for employees to volunteer to fit-up small businesses by buying goods and services and see if they reported them correctly (no conflict of interest there, then) and then using this as evidence against them. Individuals on the Compliance team boasted at how they had humiliated and driven to attempted suicide the relatives of people they were investigating.

All in all, it was the most loathsome experience of my working life. I complained bitterly in writing after my contract was up (as did several of my contemporaries) but nothing came of it. Of course, they had us over the barrel of the Official Secrets Act which demonstrates the main use of that particular piece of legislation. I could go on and on, but it would take pages. Thank God I'm out of there.

Stealthy said...

Another superb article :) It seems that claiming benefit is the only way the public will ever get any of there money back, and even then it's hit and miss :(

James Higham said...

All this is so and yet so many political pundits will not look beyond this as to why it continues.

The answer is the people behind the appointment of these idiots in the first place and of the dumming down of the community, such that non-comps are in key positions e.g. Common Purpose graduates.

Leaving the EU would put a spanner in the works and that relates back to your post here but some of the key drivers of the EU are right in this country in the first place, so we're dealing with both the serpents and the sheep in the one nation, on the one soil.

Replacing those up top is only going to remove the symptom, not the cause. This is where you come in, Cap'n. Your brand of lawful rebellion is brilliant, because it only needs a smallish percentage to do these things and the drivers have a problem on their hands.

All power to your drinking arm.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin Police Union Announces Solidarity with Occupation of State House


FireballXL5 said...

Great stuff Capt. I love these HMRC bashing posts!
What you have posted along with Pirrans excellent comment mirrors my own experience of dealing with these vicious robbing bastards. So much so that I have resolved never again to contribute to the corrupt and wasteful state machine. This is the only way, short of a mass uprising, the politicos will ever be made to listen and I urge everyone to take the same path. We owe it to ourselves as sovereign individuals to put our own needs before those of the state.

microdave said...

After reading Anon's comment re his son, can someone explain how so many people are able to milk the system? For instance that ugly cow featured in the papers over the last few days, who finds work "boring", and is supported by benefits of something like £3k per month.

How do they make these claims, and why aren't they thrown out straight away?

I claimed JSA twice after leaving a long standing job. I could have managed without it, but figured it was worth getting some of my contributions back.

However the 26 weeks, or whatever it was, came to an end AND THAT WAS IT!!! No more money, or help....

How do these other cnuts get away with it??? Honesty, and managing to save some money, clearly don't work anymore...