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HMRC spends over £80m on ‘work from home’ devices

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HM Revenue & Customs has been criticised for its ‘couch potato culture’ after spending over £80m on remote working devices, according to official figures.

The findings, revealed under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation by the Parliament Street think tank, showed that the taxman purchased a total of 175,250 laptops, tablet computers, phones, and desktops at a total cost of £82,608,959 over the last three years.

HMRC spent a total of £64,088,744 providing 88,362 laptops for its workers.

Meanwhile £7,930,271 was spent buying up 54,093 tablet computers. The department also splurged £10,112,552 on 32,013 mobile phones.

A further £477,392 was spent on 782 desktop computers.

Previous research has indicted that around 95pc of staff at HM Revenue and Customs staff work remotely at least one day in the working week, The Telegraph can disclose. This was higher than in the first national pandemic lockdown, when the proportion of HMRC staff working away from the office rose to 92pc, up from around a third in 2019, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

Patrick Sullivan, Chairman of the Parliament Street think tank said: “HMRC cannot continue to splash our hard-earned cash to fuel this absurd remote working binge. It’s time to put an end to this couch potato culture, with staff ordered back into the office as a mandatory part of their job description.”

Sachin Agrawal, Managing Director, Zoho UK said: “Remote working is proven to deliver a dramatic increase to employee productivity, allowing staff to collaborate and manage important tasks wherever they may be. This level of tech investment should be part of a wider strategy, with employees getting access to the latest software applications, and being educated and fully trained to understand full capabilities. This ensures critical work is completed effectively and synchronised to deliver maximum value and contribute significantly to business success.”

Michael Thornton, senior director, public sector at Investigo said: “The bottom line is that this kind of tech investment will dramatically boost productivity in the long term. However, equipping staff with shiny new devices is only part of the solution, public sector teams need to embrace AI and ensure they have a robust digital talent pipeline in place to drive long term savings.”

Richard Alvin, Former government advisor and chairman of Trends Research added: “A full working from anywhere policy has been critical to us being able to hire the best people irrespective of geographical and flexible working cuts travel time and reduced overheads in terms of office costs. It is great to see the public sector finally waking up to these changes and If we want to build a leaner, more effective public sector then these kind of tech investments are key.”

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