Archive for Petty Beurocracy

Tax and Benifits, a Joined up Idea

Posted in Children, Government, Petty Beurocracy with tags , , on January 12, 2009 by pieman70

I’ve recently had the misfortune of trying to apply for working tax credits, and responding to a letter from the HMRC about possible overpaid NI contributions, giving me a fascinating and terrifying view of the tax/benefit system. To be honest, it seems to be engineered to try and put you off claiming, and I do wonder if this is the idea.

I received a letter from HMRC asking about how much of various types of tax I have paid, which involved trawling through files for P60 forms and the like. My thought while doing this was “Hang on, I Pay tax to you, and you don’t know how much I’m paying, that can’t be right?” Similarly, when my wife applied for Maternity allowance and applying for working tax credits, we’re using our best judgement to tell one government department what another could tell them definitively.

I’m not asking for a huge database, while a good idea in principle we know how good the Govt are at IT projects. No, what I’d like is a little communication between departments. Think of how this could work. I start off single and living with a parent earning money. The Government knows my address and knows the other person there is someone with the same last name. I’m doing not badly at work and buy a small flat. My name is updated to the flats address on the electoral roll, and as I’m the only name associated at that address so I qualify for single persons allowance on my council tax. The electoral register will in fact track anyone of voting age who lives with me. I get married, there’s a record, I loose my job, the tax office know and should really start unemployment processes. I get another job, similarly they should now know. I have a child, the Benefits agency should know from the register of births, and be able to ask the Tax office about my household income and be able to work out what benefits I am due. All it takes is for government departments to actually work together.

Now naturally this does somewhat fall apart if my work is cash in hand, but if I work for a company properly, on the books My tax is taken from me before I see a penny of my wage. This could reduce fraud and errors by automating much of the system and removing the human element.

As an extra boon I would also have the rule that if the benefits office overpay you, unless it can be proved that you willfully submitted incorrect information, you keep the money, however if you are underpaid they have to make up the difference. I think we would see fewer errors if the office was given some sort of incentive to get things right first time. Currently its the end user who suffers from any and all of their mistakes and incompetence.


Pie Man’s Work Lexicon #1 – Short Range Accounting

Posted in Accountants, Petty Beurocracy, Work with tags , , on October 6, 2008 by pieman70

A little idea, given an optimistic number so as, like flora and fauna of roads I may continue it beyond #1.

Short Range Accounting – Where huge costs and inconvenience are incurred for short term savings.

An example of this comes from when my work was more clerical based. Our department clearly had too few staff for the volume of work. Sometimes this was covered by Temps and sometimes by Overtime. However how this happened was absurd. So we’d be working a few OT shifts here and there and the call would come from on high “Your overtime bill is too High, all OT is banned” very well, says my boss, how does the work get done “Hire a Temp” replies boss. A few months down the line “Our temps costs are too high, dismiss all temps” comes from on high, once again my boss asks how work will be done, “Overtime” replies boss. A few months pass and once again “Your overtime bill is too high….”

There is an obvious solution to this problem that was mooted by my boss of the time, Hire more full time staff. This was dismissed on grounds of cost.

Short range accountancy is practiced by poor managers and over-zealous accountants who are too focused on the costs of their specific sphere of influence or costs over the short term to worry about such things as long term costs, other people’s budgets or practicality. Its a practice that people should be stamping out, but in the world of performance statistics and “Goals” these figures mean more than actual useful work. In short by people who have no interest in the Big picture unless it means they can sack someone or not hire someone by referring to “The Big Picture”

This can also extend to equipment. Most companies will use the cheapest kit available, because it looks good. “Why yes, we are paying 80 pence less per widget using these new ones.” Of course these new widgets are 3 times less effective and wear out 4 times as fast, meaning your yearly widget costs are higher and costs of widget installation and failure are increased as well, but it can’t be the cheap widgets. I’d penalise the staff, they’re doing something wrong.