FDA
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FDA welcomes reports into loss of child benefit disks from HMRC

The FDA - the union representing senior managers and professionals in the civil service - has today welcomed the Poynter and IPCC reports into the circumstances surrounding the loss of the child benefit disks from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

FDA general secretary Jonathan Baume said:

“The FDA welcomes the Poynter and IPCC reports and we are pleased that the reports find no evidence of misconduct or criminality. But they do point to systemic and institutional failure on data security.

"Poynter attributes this to HM Revenue and Customs' organisational structure at the time, which was designed by consultants McKinsey. This vindicates the FDA’s view, expressed since the merger of Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise, that a more unified and integrated structure was required. We agree with Poynter that 'the new organisation structure is a positive step forward'.

"We are working with HMRC to ensure that the department at every level works within a culture where the protection of confidential and sensitive information is embedded as part of a professional approach to dealing with customers. This requires the allocation of appropriate resources to equip staff with the facilities, IT systems and training to enable them to meet their obligations.

"Poynter says that morale in HMRC is low and that 'staff are weary of change'. The issue in HMRC is that wide-scale change is taking pace against the constant backdrop of ever-decreasing resources.

"Ministers are seeking real terms spending cuts in HMRC of 5% in each of the next three years. The danger is that working within these financial constraints could lead to pressures building elsewhere, creating tomorrow's problems. It is imperative that the Government reflects on the resources it is currently allocating to HMRC to ensure they match the scale of the challenges it faces.

"Spending on data security is a priority. But it should not have to be at the expense of resourcing the pursuit of tax avoidance and evasion in all its forms.

The FDA also welcomed today's Cabinet Office review to improve data security across all of government.

Baume said: "There is no doubt that the civil service was damaged by the public anger last autumn around the loss of personal data. It was a problem of culture, and it should never have happened. The FDA will be working with departments to do all we can to ensure it never happens again.”

Notes for editors

1. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the ’s senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.

2. Members in HMRC are represented by the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a section of the FDA.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants’ union".

4. For further information contact:

· Oliver Rowe, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5588 or 07751 366680.

· Jonathan Baume, General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07976 951191.

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