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Revenue and Customs: Manpower

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 28 January 2009

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many pre-surplus staff there were at HM Revenue and Customs and its agencies at the end of each quarter from March 2007 onwards; (250273)

(2) with reference to the Answer to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Jim Cousins) of 13 June 2007, Official Report, column 1123W, on Revenue and Customs: manpower, what the definition is of pre-surplus staff.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Answer of 10 December 2008, Official Report, column 197W, on departmental personnel, how many of the pre-surplus staff classified as such upon return from maternity leave; and how many of the pre-surplus staff have been classified as such for at least (a) six months and (b) 12 months. (250116)

Since 2005, HMRC have reduced their overall headcount from 105,000 staff to 88,000 staff. HMRC have committed to reducing staff numbers further over the coming years.

My hon. Friend’s answer of 21 January 2009, Official Report, column 1473W described how the pre-surplus arrangements work. Pre-surplus status is a term used by HMRC as part of their arrangements for managing workforce changes. When work volumes reduce or it is planned to move work to another location, HMRC use pre-surplus arrangements to help manage the consequent change in staffing requirements. HMRC use this scheme to help re-deploy staff to new roles ahead of any change in staffing requirements in a particular location or business unit.

Potentially surplus staff are given pre-surplus status and then have priority for any vacancies that arise that they apply for. This allows HMRC to address proactively any potential staffing surplus as a result of a change in the business. Pre-surplus staff continue to carry out essential work for the Department as they await new jobs. This is a sensible way to make best use of the skills of people during a period of radical reconstruction to improve service to customers.

If pre-surplus measures do not resolve the situation, staff can be declared ‘surplus’ after which the Department can start to move to redundancy. The pre-surplus arrangements are a key part of our strategy for managing surpluses, and the Department remains committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as this is reasonably practicable.

Information on pre-surplus information was only retained from the quarter ended September 2007. The figures provided as follows provide a snapshot of the position at each date. The position changes on a daily basis.

Numbers of pre-surplus staff in HMRC


June 2007


Sept 2007


Dec 2007


Mar 2008


June 2008


Sept 2008


Dec 2008


n/a = Not available.

The current number of pre-surplus staff (20 January 2009) is 2,824. The number of pre-surplus staff on maternity leave is 18. The number of staff pre-surplus for at least six months is 34 and there are 21 who have been pre-surplus for more than 12 months.