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Friday 02 August 2019

ARC: Don't blame HMRC civil servants for no-deal preparations stumbling block

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ARC – the FDA section representing HMRC staff – has told ministers not to blame civil servants for ministerial mishandling of Brexit.

The statement has been issued in response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid's recent letter to HMRC Chief Executive Sir Jon Thompson. In it, the Chancellor instructs Sir Jon to make no-deal preparations his department’s “absolute top priority”. Javid also demanded “weekly delivery-focused updates from HMRC to ensure progress remains on track”.

Last November, Sir Jon – who will be stepping down from his post in the autumn – told MPs that “the date for putting in an optimal customs system for the UK in the event of no deal was passed months ago.”

Jawad Raza, the FDA National Officer representing ARC, said that “if the Chancellor wants preparation for a no-deal Brexit to be the number one priority in HMRC, he needs to ensure that this commitment can be backed up by adequate resource.”

“Brexit planning remains a key priority for HMRC,” he explained, “but the department still needs to carry out its vital day-to-day duties of collecting tax revenues, cutting tax avoidance and evasion, enforcement and customer compliance programs, all whilst providing advice and support to businesses.”

“Civil servants in HMRC have been putting a number of options forward for Brexit planning over the past three years,” Raza continued. “More than 5,000 of them have been tasked to work on preparation for our EU exit, working long, unsocial hours with no additional reward. Rather than looking to blame them for a lack of progress, perhaps ministers should look to themselves for the major stumbling block: a lack of ministerial strategy or direction.”

Raza’s comments were quoted in a BBC article, and the FDA’s stance shared on BBC radio.

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