Having thought it was safe to celebrate my victory over HMRC and my appeal against the nonsense that is the incompetence of the tax credits system, it appears I have been premature in cracking open the champagne.
It seemed a safe conclusion, given that I had received a call from the courts to confirm resolution, I had also been written to with confirmation that the outcome of the appeal was now correctly in my favour, and I was sent a letter from HMRC with all the correct figures. Surely nothing could go wrong now…?!
Then comes the statement. In fact, five more statements in so many days, which contain completely different figures – which are out by the value of the cost of the average family car. Stop the world I want to get off.
So I can either get angry, or I can write another piece of satire, slamming the embarrassment that is HMRC. I choose to see the positive – hopefully an opportunity for humour at the expense of this shambles.
Before I commence this, I would just like to fairly state that my local MP is on it, and being very helpful. However the system as a whole still deserves a bloody good slagging off.
So here we have my coping mechanism for the ongoing stress of this situation: my conclusion of the top 10 criteria for getting a job at HMRC…
- You must have the empathy levels of Jeremy Hunt. If a customer cries on the phone, we would expect you to do something like play on your phone – perhaps browsing an internet site for instant sex in your area, or playing Lego Star Wars – that sort of ignorance would be ideal. We don’t tolerate staff members who listen or sympathise.
- You must think that £96 x 52 is £412 – anything over this figure is deemed as bringing HMRC into disrepute. These are childcare calculations – we do not condone the use of correct figures.
- You must be totally void of the sense to escalate an issue when it reaches the point that there is hard evidence against HMRC, and a parallel mention of a customer going to the Daily Mail. Continue to not listen, screw letters up and throw them at your voodoo poster of the Dalai Lama and let the situation unnecessarily spiral until it reaches the hands of the courts.
- You must believe that all single parents have had to have paternity tests to confirm which kids are from which dads – following accidental pregnancies, resulting from Cash ‘n’ Carry car park sex. These single parents are not good folk and we need to be confident you don’t slip into thinking they are real people.
- You must be comfortable with the phrase “it’s not as if they’re going to understand the figures anyway, especially if you send them six different multiple-page statements in four days” – we would expect this kind of chat amongst your colleagues, and during your appraisals with your supervisors.
- You must NOT give a shit about your job, the system or anyone on the other side of the phone.
- You must not use your real name when you answer the phone. If you accidentally change your name halfway through conversations with customers, then this is exactly the level of stupidity we are looking for.
- You must have the ability to say one thing on the phone and then write down another in the customer’s notes. For example, if the customer states they are single with two children, tell them they will get £150 a week but then put them down on the system as in a relationship with just the one child – and allocate them £4 a week.
- You must be unable to copy a simple figure from one page to another without making errors in at least two of the digits. This is especially important when you are copying guidance notes from successful court appeals. The report gives a four figure total? Make it three figures. And swap the 9 for a 3.
- If you are intelligent enough to realise that the system is utter nonsense and doesn’t make sense, you must show no common sense to try and change the system or to leave your job. You must stay there regardless.
Bonus point: having a crush on Jeremy Hunt. We would love Jeremy Hunt to come and run the Tax Credits system: he is exactly the calibre of human being we are looking for.
I am sure that, amongst those with the mathematical capabilities of a toothbrush, there are some very nice people who work at HMRC, and some who are good at their job. If one of them is reading this then I pray that my case notes land on their desk and that they have the heart and common sense to correct the one single error that is causing months of time and money to change.
For anyone else on the receiving end of this living sitcom, CHECK CHECK CHECK your statements. You may as well be trusting one of those special emails that say ‘Congratulations! You’ve been selected to send £30,000 to an overseas bank account, and we will give you back £1m!’
I don’t trust that this will be my last post on the joys of dealing with the Tax Credits system… we await the next incomprehensible human error…