The view from Melvyn Neate, FCCA, director of internal audit, HM Revenue and Customs
What are your major challenges at HMRC?
Ensuring it continues to improve individuals’ and businesses’ payment of tax due and their receipt of the credits and benefits to which they are entitled. Remaining committed to improving customers’ experiences: helping those who need it; pursuing those who bend or break the rules. Making the tax system simpler for our customers and easier for them to get things right.
What do you enjoy about your work?
Its challenge and variety. My primary role is to provide the Permanent Secretary with an independent opinion and assurance on HMRC’s governance, risk management and controls. This requires me to carry out work in a wide variety of areas, including taxes administered (income tax, national insurance, VAT, corporation tax and Customs and Excise duties) and entitlements distributed (tax credits, child benefit and child trust fund endowments). HMRC also enforces the national minimum wage and administers the collection of student loans, the Office of the Paymaster General and the creation of the Government Banking Service. There is plenty to audit!
What do you expect over the next year?
It will be challenging for our customers and HMRC. There will be pressure on tax revenues. HMRC, while striving hard to improve performance and customers’ experience, will need to consider taxpayers’ circumstances.
How do you respond when people say they hate the taxman?
HMRC makes sure the money is available to fund public services such as schools and hospitals. It helps families and individuals with targeted financial support through the tax credit process. It helps to protect the country through its work at the frontier.
How does being an FCCA assist you?
My role requires technical and interpersonal skills. Being an FCCA equips me to understand financial management, accounting standards and the pivotal role of finance in ensuring organisational success. It also helps me to network.
Fast facts: HMRC collected £450bn and paid out £30bn in tax credits in 2008. HMRC Internal Audit employs 140 staff.
Neate has been HMRC’s head of internal audit since 2003. He has been chief internal auditor at NHS Logistics, Unigate and TSB.