Dear The Adjudicator’s Office,

The Adjudicator’s Office claims it is both independent and impartial. I believe It is demonstrably neither of these things.
On 13 July 2017, the Adjudicator’s Office (AO) published its 2016-17 Annual Report. In that Report, the percentage of complaints about HMRC that were upheld by the AO has reduced by more than half from 85% upheld in 2014-15 to 41% upheld during 2016. This is fantastic for both HMRC and its ‘independent’ sibling, the AO, but it is not so fantastic for the thousands of people annually let down by both HMRC and the AO. This dramatic drop indicates and extrapolates that by 2020 there will be no complaints against HMRC that will be upheld by the AO. There will still be roughly the same number of complaints about HMRC referred to the AO, but none of them will be upheld by the AO. Perhaps the reason is that most people, and later all people, that complain to the AO about HMRC are deluded/ misinformed/wrong? Or maybe not?
The AO ‘explain’ this dramatic drop in their 2016-17 Annual Report. They say that the drop is largely down to ‘very real’ improvements in HMRC performance. Really? If that were so we should clearly expect there to be a correspondingly large decrease in the number of complaints about HMRC being referred to the AO, because logically if HMRC were doing such a fabulous job people wouldn’t need to complain to the AO about HMRC. The statistics do not bear this out. In 2016-17 there were 1,111 complaints about HMRC received by the AO. This compares with 1,226 received in 2015-16. This represents just a 9% drop. So, if HMRC has delivered this ‘very real’ improvement in performance, then why are roughly the same number of people complaining to the AO about HMRC? People complain to the AO about HMRC because they sincerely and informatively believe that they have a genuine grievance, and those complainants are intelligent and right-minded people. They also don’t complain for the mere sake of complaining.
In 2015-16 the AO upheld 73% of complaints about HMRC, as compared to 41% upheld in 2016-17. You don’t need to be Carol Vorderman to realise that the AO’s explanation that HMRC’s splendid performance was responsible for the very large fall in the cases of complaints upheld by the AO is entirely spurious, and it does not engender trust and confidence in the AO.
Roughly the same number of people complained to the AO about HMRC in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, yet the AO roughly halved the number of upheld cases from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Is the AO being impartial and independent? Is its explanation of the correlation between HMRC performance and falls in upheld cases plausible? I know what I think. Public trust in government departments, local authorities, QUANGOS, and ombudsmen organisations, like the AO, is now at an all-time low.
Could the AO now please provide me with the percentage of cases against HMRC that were upheld by the AO for the years 2005 -2013 inclusive. This is the only information I am requesting in this FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Central Team, The Adjudicator’s Office

Our ref: FOI2017/01282

Dear M Boyce,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 17th July which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

The Adjudicator’s Office

1 Attachment

 
Dear M Boyce,
  
Please find attached response to your recent Freedom of Information  
request.
 
  
Yours sincerely
  
Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 

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Dear The Adjudicator’s Office,

Dear Madam

I have just seen that the information I requested is publicly available in archived form ( mentioned in very small print). I didn't realise this, and for that I apologise.
You state that I knew that the information was publicly available and therefore I deliberately requested this publicly available information in order to abuse the FOIA. That is a ridiculous and untrue thing to assert.
You then say that the nature of my request places a significant financial burden on HMRC. No it doesn't.
You then state that because of the history of my requests it is highly likely that I will not be satisfied by any response. That is also utter nonsense. I am satisfied. I have found the information, though with little assistance from you.
I have the information I requested and that is the end of this request, and that is that.

Yours faithfully,

M Boyce

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