HMRC WFH employees have lost £1 million worth of laptops and mobile phones

  • Figures show that approximately ten mobile phones and two laptops disappear every week

Thousands of laptops and mobile phones worth around £1 million have been lost over the past three years by HM Revenue and Customs working from home.

According to figures from The Telegraph, around ten mobile phones and two laptops disappear every week.

It means that careless HMRC staff have reported 1,670 mobile phones missing over the past three years, while 334 laptops have been lost in the same period.

During that time, a further 95 phones were recorded as stolen, while 562 laptops were also pinched.

HMRC says ‘swift action’ is needed to deactivate any device recorded as lost or stolen and investigate all security incidents.

Thousands of laptops and mobile phones worth around £1 million have been lost or stolen by tax office staff working from home in the past three years

With laptops costing an average of £1,000 to buy new and mobile phones now closer to £800, this could mean HMRC spending more than £1 million to replace the electronic equipment.

Half of the staff at the tax authorities’ headquarters are still working from home, despite complaints about poor customer service.

Only 53 per cent of civil servants working in the prestigious offices at 100 Parliament Street spent an average of a week at their desks in the first three months of 2024, it was reported.

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An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘Security and privacy are at the heart of our work as we deal with tens of millions of customers every year.

“We take swift action to deactivate lost or stolen devices and investigate all security incidents, taking steps to reduce future recurrences.”

The government department has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months amid increasing complaints about record waiting times for those wanting to speak to an adviser at HMRC by phone.

For those who managed to get through, wait times reached a record high of 25 minutes.

And a damning January report from spending watchdog the National Audit Office found that HMRC had miscalculated its tax benefit amounts.

In a further humiliation, the company was forced into a U-turn last month over plans to get more customers online by closing phone lines for almost six months a year. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt intervened and the idea was scrapped.

In the 12 months to March 22, an average of just 48 per cent of civil servants at 100 Parliament Street were at their desks in a week, the Daily Telegraph reported after analyzing official data.

Visitor numbers peaked at 62 percent in the week of December 11.

Over the past three years, careless tax and customs personnel have reported 1,670 mobile phones missing, while 334 laptops have been lost in the same period

Although the Parliament Street office is not used to handle calls, attendance records have nonetheless raised concerns.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former business secretary, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The lesson is clear. HMRC are failing to provide a service to people, and they are not going to work.

‘They are wasting taxpayers’ money because this is prime office space in London, which costs a significant amount of money. They either have to use 100 Parliament Street or they have to move.”

An HMRC spokesperson said last month: ‘We expect all office colleagues to now spend 60 per cent of their working time in the office. Hybrid working is part of our approach to being a modern and flexible employer.

‘Our colleagues must meet the same standards whether they work from an HMRC building or from home.’

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