HMRC has today announced the next step in its ten-year modernisation programme to create a tax authority fit for the future, committing to high-quality jobs and the creation of 13 new regional centres over the next five years, serving every nation and region in the UK.
The modernisation programme, now at the halfway point, includes investment in new online services, data analytics, new compliance techniques, new skills and new ways of working, to make it easier for the honest majority of customers to pay their tax, including by improving customer service, and harder for the dishonest minority to cheat the system. The changes have already resulted in over 80% of people filing their Self Assessment returns online and given customers new, simple ways to check their payments, make changes or find answers to questions.
The tax authority, which raised a record £517 billion for public services last year, will open its first new regional centre in 2016-17, with others following between 2017 and 2021.
HMRC’s 58,000 full-time equivalent employees are currently spread across 170 offices around the country, many of which are a legacy of the 1960s and 1970s, which range in size from around 6,000 people to fewer than ten. HMRC will bring its employees together in 13 large, modern regional centres, equipped with the digital infrastructure and training facilities needed to build a more highly-skilled workforce to meet the challenges of bringing in more revenue from those evading tax and improving its customer service to the honest majority.
The transformation supports the Government’s commitment to locate jobs throughout the country. Bringing staff together in large centres will enable people to develop careers up to senior levels, with less need to move around the country, and will support the growth of specialist teams and links with universities and other sources of skilled recruits.
Lin Homer, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:
HMRC is committed to modern, regional centres serving every region and nation in the UK, with skilled and varied jobs and development opportunities, while also ensuring jobs are spread throughout the UK and not concentrated in the capital.
HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices. This makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, and make the changes we need to transform our service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.
The new regional centres will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents. They will also make a big contribution to the cities where they are based, providing high-quality, skilled jobs and supporting the Government’s commitment for a national recovery that benefits all parts of the UK.
The changes will enable HMRC to give customers the modern services they now expect at a lower cost to the taxpayer, meeting the Government’s challenge for all departments to do more with less.
HMRC expects the majority of staff to be able to move from their current offices to a regional centre, and is phasing the moves over ten years in order to minimise redundancies. But HMRC will aim to have fewer staff in the future as it streamlines how it works and uses the best of modern technology to reduce costs.
This is a press release issued by HMRC, first published on their website.
From 12 October 2015, a new scheme is being launched helping anyone reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 to safeguard their long-term financial security.
Men aged 65 or older and women aged 63 or older are being offered a chance to increase their State Pension by up to £25 a week, giving them guaranteed extra income for life.
The scheme will remain open for 18 months and those who think they can benefit will be able to buy additional State Pension – worth up to £1,300 a year. In most cases, surviving spouses and civil partners will be able to inherit at least 50% of the extra pension.
This is an opportunity for people to increase their guaranteed retirement income for the years ahead with a boost which will be index-linked, helping to protect pensioners and their spouse or civil partner from inflation.
Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said:
This government’s commitment is to provide security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to enjoy a financially secure retirement. We have already committed to protecting pensioner incomes with the triple lock – uprating the basic State Pension by at least 2.5% each year of this Parliament. The new State Pension, coming in from April 2016, will ensure a simpler, more sustainable State Pension for the pensioners of tomorrow.
Top up is an opportunity for people already retired, or reaching State Pension age before April 2016, to boost their later life income. It won’t be right for everybody and it’s important to seek guidance or advice to check if it’s the right option for you. But it could be particularly attractive for those who haven’t had the chance to build significant amounts of State Pension, particularly many women and people who have been self-employed.
With the scheme launching tomorrow, anyone who thinks they might benefit should seek advice and can visit our online calculator and find out more.
The cost of a State Pension top up is based on a person’s age and takes average life expectancy into account. For a 65-year-old, an extra £10 of pension a week will cost £8,900, whereas for a 75-year-old the contribution rate for the same amount of pension is £6,740.
More information on State Pension top up and how to apply is available at www.gov.uk/statepensiontopup. This includes an online calculator which illustrates the contribution rates based on age and the additional amount someone wishes to receive.
The benefit helped ensure pensioners were able to stay warm during the coldest spells of last winter, with a one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help towards the cost of heating their homes.
The government’s commitment to protect the elderly by maintaining universal pensioner benefits means that nearly 9 million households were helped by the scheme, with 6.7 million women and 5.7 million men benefiting. In total, more than £2.1 billion was paid out.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith MP, said:
Winter can be hard for older people, particularly those who are vulnerable, and they should have the confidence to turn up the heating when they need to, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to afford to pay the bill.
Winter Fuel Payments give people this peace of mind and remain central to our one nation commitment of a compassionate society which puts economic security at its heart.
On top of Winter Fuel Payments, around 2 million households also receive help each year through the Warm Home Discount scheme. This year’s payment is giving more than 1.3 million of the poorest pensioners an extra £140 off their energy bill.
The government also provides Cold Weather Payments of £25 a week, giving an additional layer of support for vulnerable people in low-income groups during the very coldest snaps.
As well as UK recipients, an additional 140,000 expat pensioners living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland also received a payment, costing a total of £24.5 million.
In winter 2015 to 2016 you will qualify for Winter Fuel Payments if:
People may qualify for a payment if they live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country and have a genuine link with the UK. This year new rules are being introduced and Winter Fuel Payments will no longer be payable to people in EEA countries which have an average winter temperature that is higher than the warmest region of the UK. This includes people living in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain.