Pleasantly, but not unsurprisingly I found, on returning from work yesterday that Mrs. G had received a letter from HMRC over the loss of child benefit details. The letter helpfully had Mrs. G’s NI and Child benefit numbers emblazoned all over it.
David Hartnett the acting Chairman of HMRC explained that the letter was a ‘personal apology’, advised that the missing discs were probably still on Government property, the police were still looking anyway, perhaps it might be a good idea to change our passwords allowing access to bank accounts and to let the banks know if we think that any thieves are dipping into our accounts.
‘Dave’ (as he styled himself in the letter) concluded his letter reiterating that this was a personal apology and that efforts were being made to ensure that this would never happen again.
Thanks ‘Dave’. We felt much better after that. As a personal apology it would have been nice if you had signed the letter yourself but I do understand that this may have been a little impractical to do for all recipients of the letter with the limited time you must have on your hands.
But it was the honourable thing to do. And as long as you are trying to stop a re-occurrence of this problem that’s all that counts.
The same honourable tradition is exemplified by the former HMRC boss Paul Gray who actually resigned over the issue.
So deep has been Mr. Gray’s shame that he has been reduced to accepting a short-term Cabinet Office post on a salary of more than £200,000 (pro-rata one hopes) whilst working out his notice period up until the end of the year.
Apparently an Orclet explained that Mr Gray's period of notice meant he would continue to be paid until 31 December whether he was working or not.
Mr Gray's task at the Cabinet Office will involve "special projects to develop civil service skills".
Perhaps informing everyone on how to fill in ‘Recorded Delivery’ books might be a good starting point.
Or possibly another area for improvement is in the drafting of contracts of employment.
Simple stuff along the lines of ‘If an employee decides that they must take responsibility for a cock up all contractual rights between the employer and employee cease from that point on.
If it's a matter of honour you wouldn't really expect to continue to be paid would you?
Or would you?
If they had really wanted to make Mr. Gray work for his money for his last few weeks of employment in the Civil Service he could have gone back to Newcastle to help out in the office. Apparently there were quite a few letters in Dave Hartnett’s out tray that needed PP’ing.