Billions of pounds of tax remain uncollected in the UK as almost 2,300 HM Revenue & Customs tax compliance officers are transferred to work on Brexit and Covid-19 schemes.
Victoria Atkins, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, admitted in response to Ministerial Questions that 1,043 HMRC tax compliance officers had been appointed to work on Brexit cases in the 2021-22 tax year. She added that a further 1,250 staff who would normally be working on tax refunds have been moved to work on Covid-19 loan schemes – which have been subject to fraud.
“Civil servants move from one crisis to another in a constant game of mole, leaving taxes uncollected and public services starved of money,” said the Liberal Democrat party, which asked Atkins the questions.
Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman, said shifting around 10 per cent of HMRC’s tax compliance proposals to the Brexit and Covid levy had cost public services.
Atkins revealed that £30.7bn was recovered through compliance efforts in 2021-22, compared with £36.9bn in 2019-20, the year before the pandemic hit fully, a fall of more than £6bn.
“This Conservative government is in constant fire-fighting mode because of their massive incompetence, from the failed trade deal with the EU to the unforgivable mistakes made during the pandemic,” Olney said.
HMRC said: “We move resources where and when they are most needed and our performance is reflected in the fact that we raised a record amount for the UK public service last year.
“The National Audit Office has recognized that HMRC’s compliance work provides good value for the taxpayer.”
Read more about unpaid tax in the UK here.
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