Just over 18 months ago I sheepishly walked into a rather cramped room in a Newcastle Premier inn, wondering what I’d let myself in for.
I’d been a member of ARC since I joined the department as a TPDP trainee in September 2013. Despite being lured by the chance to win an iPad, insurance against my employer and the statement that ‘ARC doesn’t strike’, joining ARC had been a principled decision. Deciding around five years later to put myself forward for committee seemed like a sensible idea: the pressures of TPDP (or TSP as it had morphed to) were becoming a distant memory, I felt comfortable in my role and I wanted to get more involved in my union.
Despite being lured by the chance to win an iPad, insurance against my employer and the statement that ‘ARC doesn’t strike’, joining ARC had been a principled decision.
Before I explain what I have learned, I’m meant to offer a brief ‘bio’ about myself. As I’ve already mentioned, I joined HMRC back in 2013 as a Band T trainee. Since promotion in 2017, I’ve been working as a Case Director for Employer Duties in WMBC, based in Sheffield. It’s an interesting and varied role and I’ve been fortunate to actually use the tax knowledge I gained on the course (not always guaranteed these days). I’m ready for a new challenge, so can’t guarantee I won’t have moved roles by the time you flick through to this page. Outside of HMRC, I’m a keen (very amateur) baker and am currently nursing a three month-old sourdough starter. In an attempt to be more active, my wife and I are currently taking advantage of the fantastic Peak District on our doorstop, so please let me know if you can recommend any good walks in the area (decent pub en route is a bonus). On the Committee I have responsibility for Counter Avoidance, Tax Academy and the TSP.
Now that the bio is out of the way, back to the substance of my article: what have I learned as a member of ARC committee.
- Pease pudding sandwiches are, for some reason, a snack handed out in Newcastle pubs. That may seem trivial, but it was one of the first things I did learn;
- ARC is genuinely respected by the department. At all levels, the department is genuinely interested in the views of ARC reps. In the areas I’ve represented ARC, I have never once felt like I was there just to tick off some ‘consultation’ box;
- The ARC reps I have met work incredibly hard. This may be obvious to most of you but I never really appreciated how much time people put in to representing your interests, often alongside an equally demanding HMRC job;
- The hardworking people I mention in point 3 aren’t always very good at telling you all what they have been up to. This is something we, as a Committee, are trying to better at. It’s no good if we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done if you, the members, don’t have a clue what is going on. As I said, we are getting better at this and hopefully you have noticed improvements recently; and finally,
- The need for a strong ARC has never been greater – our members come under attack in the press and on social media, our pay is still poor and HMRC is currently going through a significant programme of change. To help ARC keep fighting for members, it needs your help: come to the AGM, recruit members, attend local events, etc.
Over all, I have learned that ARC really is a vehicle for positive change in HMRC but it can’t do this without its members.