ARC’s Campaign Manager reports on The Parliamentary event held on 16 March – another success for the Campaign

Yesterday, ARC held a Parliamentary event organised by the ARC Campaign team and our lobbyists Connect, titled ‘Tackling the tax gap – reducing the deficit’.

I’ll start by saying that our President – Graham – was magnificent. Having got the better of early morning nerves (and after being introduced by the chair of the event – Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party), Graham used the 3 or so minutes allotted to each of the panellists to set out, very powerfully, the nub of ARC’s campaign – that it’s the economics of the playground not to invest in an income generating department. Graham said it’s difficult to understand why the Government is not acting on ARC’s arguments – the analogy he used being ‘It’s as if we’ve given them the winning numbers for next week’s lottery but they don’t want to invest a £1 to buy a ticket.’

A packed room (every seat taken and people standing at the back) heard interesting views from each panellist. And each speaker picked up on dwindling HMRC resources, ranging from what it means in terms of ensuring everyone pay their fair share to the negative affect staff cuts have had on customer service. The audience – a real mixture of MPs, Lords, people from the accountancy profession to other interested parties like Richard Murphy (from Tax Research and Tax Justice Network) and Richard Brooks (Private Eye) and ARC members – then quizzed the panel with a  range of thoughtful questions, for example, around tax simplification, HMRC’s ability to deliver and why (given ARC’s compelling arguments and the consensus in the room that the tax gap needs to be closed) the government has not been bold and acted upon ARC’s campaign by significantly investing in HMRC resource. Here’s a cross section of some of the responses from panellists to those (and other questions):

Lord Oakeshott (Lib Dem): ‘Tax evasion is abhorrent…I agree that the government should invest in HMRC resources’

David Hanson (shadow Exchequer Secretary): ‘The opposition supports ARC’s campaign…I challenge the Government to think closely about the need for further cuts in HMRC’

Chas Roy Chowdhury (Head of Taxation,  ACCA): ‘Tax evaders should be targeted by HMRC…spend to save makes absolute sense’.

Mark Garnier (Conservative): ‘People have a social conscience and want to pay the right amount of tax’

And from Graham Black: ‘Closing the tax gap is imperative for this Government and the UK: it is the responsible and fair thing to do….The Government needs to listen to and act on ARC’s campaign by investing in HMRC… Not to do so is the economics of the playground’.

There was a real feeling of support for ARC’s campaign and agreement that our arguments – our simple, powerful and compelling arguments – must be taken account of. I’ll end by saying, unashamedly, that this was yet another success for ARC’s campaign. Well done to all involved, but particular congratulations and thank you to Graham.

I’m sure the other ARC members who were there will echo me in saying, Graham, you did a great job – in serving the union and in representing, promoting and defending the interests of ARC members – which is what this campaign has been all about.

Gareth Hills

TREASURY SUB-COMMITTEE TO HEAR FROM HMRC UNIONS


The Treasury Sub-Committee will this week hold the following meeting as part of its inquiry into the Administration and Effectiveness of HMRC:

Wednesday 19 January, 2.15pm, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster

Witnesses:

Simon Boniface, Deputy Group Secretary, and Peter Lockhart, National Officer, Revenue and Customs Group, Public and Commercial Services Union;

Graham Black, President, and Terry Cook, former President, Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC).

Further information on this inquiry can be found at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/treasury-committee/inquiries1/sub-committee-hmrc/

FDA/ARC TUC Motion passed unanimously

The following FDA/ARC motion was moved this morning at the TUC’s annual conference in Manchester:

HMRC Resources and the Deficit

Congress notes with concern the potential effects of the Coalition Government’s intention to cut public service expenditure by £6bn in 2010, and its intention to further cut departmental budgets by up to a quarter in years to come.  Congress deplores the severe consequences that such cuts will have on the pay, conditions and job security of public sector workers who were not to blame for that deficit, or the wider economic meltdown, in the first place.

At a time when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ own estimate of the ‘tax gap’ continues to be in the region of £40bn, Congress finds it both ironic and nonsensical that such cuts will only further erode HMRC’s capacity to collect the taxes necessary to fund public services, contribute to a healthy UK PLC, and ensure that every citizen benefits from continued investment in high quality public services, such as schools and hospitals.

Congress call on General Council to develop and support a campaign against the cuts in HMRC, but also to press and persuade the Government to put more resources into HMRC’s cadre of senior professionals: the tax, legal, accountancy and policy experts working in the public sector whose job it is to counter and tackle fraudulent evaders and those making use of complex schemes and artificial arrangements to avoid tax.

Our sister union PCS spoke in support of this motion and it was passed unanimously.

ARC’s MP Drop-In at Westminster

ARC union officials were delighted with the response to their first ever drop-in at Westminster today.

The drop-in marked the launch of ARC’s “Being Bold” report as part of their “Defeat The Deficit” campaign.

ARC President Graham Black said,

“It is encouraging that so many MPS are listening, and came along to hear our message.  We are offering a real alternative to help cut the deficit – raising revenue that is legally due by using skilled tax professionals to close the tax gap and ensure that everyone pays their fair share.”

ARC hopes to influence this autumn’s Spending Review – HMRC needs investment, not cuts.