Running fast, getting nowhere

There is a saying, spend a little and get a lot, I suspect it’s about investing time in a project, not money, but it’s sadly something that our wonderful tax grabbers people seem to have forgotten.

Telegraph.

Tax man spent £98m but failed to collect extra revenue
A public spending watchdog has found two projects costing £98 million that were set up to boost tax collection rates failed to help rake in any extra cash.
The new systems at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) were expected to bring in £743 million by the last financial year but had not delivered ”any additional benefits”.
In a report on tax compliance, the National Audit Office found delays in introducing the two case management schemes, Caseflow and Spectrum, were behind the failure.
It states: ”The delays in delivering projects meant that HMRC has not delivered the forecast yield increases as quickly as intended.
”Two projects – Caseflow and Spectrum – received £98 million of programme funding and were originally forecast to achieve net yield increases of £743 million by 2010/11.
”At the end of 2010/11, the two projects had not delivered any additional benefits.”

Nobody likes paying tax, to many of us a lot of what the government both local and national seem to do with our money is piss it up the wall on various grandiose projects that cost far more than they ought too and take twice as long, either that or they are giving it too themselves as expenses or jetting off to various holiday destinations on fact finding junkets (only a slight exaggeration there) People only really put up with the levels of taxation in this country because it’s money they never really see, it’s taken off our wages before we get them.

Still, what we would like is that the various people tasked to spend what they take from us would show a duty of care on what they spend it on, not simply spend it and then turn around and ask for more because it didn’t work. I have a friend, who works for the IT project dept of the Dept of Social Services, smart guy, but the tales he tells me occasionally boil down to senior management ordering a specified system and then turning around once it’s in and complaining that it doesn’t do what they want it too, to which the reply is usually “It does what you asked” after that the money really flows as the sub-contractor rake it in to rebuild the system and the software to do what it’s meant to do rather than what some guy who doesn’t actually use it thinks it should do.

Any given program costs more and takes longer ought to be the civil service motto, it certainly appears that way in real life.

It’s possible I suppose that when they finally get the two projects sorted out that they’ll start to make take save more by collecting more, though I wouldn’t lay odds on it.

I just wish that for once that the government and hence the civil service would just do their job efficiently and cheaply.

I expect that pigs will fly first.

5 comments for “Running fast, getting nowhere

  1. March 1, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I just wish that for once that the government and hence the civil service would just do their job efficiently and cheaply.

    Never happen until they are made personally accountable, after all it’s just Other Peoples Money to them

  2. Just another Albion
    March 1, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Relative of mine was once asked to design a system for a radiator business so that company computer users could easily calculate how much radiator output per room space, etc. At the end of it, they said it was good but were disappointed it didn’t have a “magic button.”

    They had no idea what it would actually do, other than “everything.” But they were sure it could be done to make their life easier.

    That’s the trouble with organisations and systems. They can’t do what they are supposed to do but are pretty sure someone could find a way to save them time and effort.

  3. March 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I just wish that for once that the government and hence the civil service would just do their job efficiently and cheaply.

    Yes there is a heaven, QM.

  4. March 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

    “I have a friend, who works for the IT project dept of the Dept of Social Services, smart guy, but the tales he tells me occasionally boil down to senior management ordering a specified system and then turning around once it’s in and complaining that it doesn’t do what they want it too, to which the reply is usually “It does what you asked” after that the money really flows as the sub-contractor rake it in to rebuild the system and the software to do what it’s meant to do rather than what some guy who doesn’t actually use it thinks it should do.”

    I have friends in *whisper it* HMRC, and they confirm that 110%. And what’s more, the project head is invariably promoted upwards on the back of it!

    YCMIU

  5. March 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Yes, our tax system is a mess*, the government wastes or steals at least a third of what it collects etc, but that is not really the point here.

    These anti-evasion people are there to ensure there is no evasion, they are like policemen. If you have enough coppers, there would never be any crime, but that doesn’t mean “Oh, we’ve abolished crime, now we can dispense with the coppers.”

    So if evasion is £10 billion and the anti-fraud people track down £1 billion in evaded tax at the cost of £2 billion, you can’t say that that’s a net waste of £1 billion – because if they shut down that department, evasion might go up to £20 billion; and if they can’t collect money from the dishonest, they’ll just collect even more from the honest instead.

    * Of course, the best kind of taxes, i.e. taxes on state-protected monopolies, can’t be evaded (although they can be avoided very easily, you just consume less of that state-protected monopoly) and so are incredibly cheap to collect, but that’s another story.

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