Treasury select committee member Stewart Hosie has accused the Government of hypocrisy after the number of tax inspectors fell by 1,500, despite it pledging staff numbers would be boosted by 2,250.
At the 2011 Liberal Democrat party conference, Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander said the £900m he pledged to HMRC at the previous year’s conference would help pay for 2,250 new “anti-evasion and avoidance jobs”.
But figures obtained through a parliamentary question from Scottish National Party Treasury spokesman Hosie reveal the number of HMRC staff in enforcement and compliance has fallen by 1,529 since March 2010 when there were 26,863. In March 2012, that figure was 25,334.
Hosie says: “It is incongruous at best and hypocritical at worst to be picking on individuals like Jimmy Carr while, as a Government, not putting more muscle into collection.”
HMRC’s criminal investigation department now has 394 more staff than in March 2010, rising from 1,828 to 2,222. Its specialist investigations department, which looks at corporate tax avoidance and the use of offshore arrangements has dropped by 139, from 1,563 to 1,424 over the same period.
An HMRC spokeswoman says most of the 2,250 roles have now been filled. This means more than 3,700 staff have left since March 2010 to result in a drop of 1,529.