As a Treasury minister brands paying a plumber cash in hand as “morally wrong” today [24 July], the SNP questioned what had happened to a UK Government promise to recruit 2,000 tax inspectors after it emerged that the number of specialist and criminal investigations staff employed by HM Revenue and Customs has fallen by 1,274 since the Coalition came to power.
In his keynote speech to the Liberal Democrat conference in September last year Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander promised that more than 2,000 tax inspectors would be recruited to crack down on tax evasion.
However, a parliamentary question by SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP shows that the number of HMRC Enforcement and Compliance staff – including specialist and criminal investigations teams – have fallen by 1,274 since 2010.
Mr Hosie, a Member of the Treasury Select Committee, said:
“While welcoming measures to crack down on tax evasion, the Treasury’s rhetoric is not matched by its record.
“Last year Danny Alexander promised to recruit an additional 2,000 tax inspectors, yet the Treasury’s own figures show that enforcement and compliance teams, including specialist and criminal investigations staff, have been cut by 1,274.
“And in making sweeping comments about tradesmen and women the Tories ignore the reality of the environment in which small businesses operate where there is little alternative to cash payments – which of itself, of course, does not constitute tax evasion. Tax evasion in all its forms is to be deplored, and the Treasury should also be working to simplify the tax system.”