Budget is ‘a wasted opportunity’, says union

The Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) has described the failure of today’s Budget to provide investment for HMRC as a “wasted opportunity”. ARC is the union representing senior HM Revenue and Customs staff.

Graham Black, ARC President, said:

“The Government had a chance to invest in HMRC and bring an extra £6bn into the Exchequer, which would have greatly helped to reduce the widespread pain of the spending cuts”.

Earlier this month, ARC submitted a plan to HM Treasury that would have brought in this additional money for an investment of only £260m.

Black said: “Who in any walk of life would decide against making this investment? It is as if we had given the Treasury next week’s lottery numbers, and they decided not to spend the £1 on a ticket.”

“The Budget has done nothing to reverse the ten years of cuts in HMRC, and over the next four years more staff will be moved from dealing with large businesses.

“We need to ensure that everyone pays their fair share, and new pieces of tax law, without the resources to enforce them, will not worry the avoiders and the evaders. They will be laughing all the way to their tax haven bank.”

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. ARC published a report Being Bold – a Radical Approach to Raising Revenue and Defeating the Deficit in 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.

5. 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. 

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

7. 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.

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