Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has almost tripled its yearly spend on data analyst and data scientist roles over the past five years, according to official figures. 

FOI data analysed by the think tank, Parliament Street, showed a large uptake in data analyst and data science staff year on year between 2017 and 2021. 

This mass hiring of data workers is being commended by communications software provider Zoho, which says businesses must ensure the data they hold is securely managed.

“Millions of terabytes of data are handled, collected and managed every day by organisations and individuals. Our business economy is increasingly built on analytics, intelligence and technology,” said Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, for Zoho Europe, “and as a result, organisations are having to keep up with new trends, regulations and use cases in data handling if they want to maintain a competitive edge in a busy marketplace.”

Over the reporting period, HMRC’s estimated staff bill rose 192 percent from £4,244,879 to £12,414,306 with the number of data staff increasing from 139 to 354.

The data showed that last year saw the largest surge with an additional 78 staff joining HMRC in data roles. This resulted in an estimated staff bill rise of £3,339,317. The hiring also coincided with the fluctuating case numbers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

HMRC upskilling teams

The upskilled data teams at HMRC mainly work to collect and clean data, create statistical models, and form visualisations to present the ‘story’ of the data in a meaningful way.

HMRC’s HR system only allows the recording of one profession for each staff member. As a result, they believe their figures are likely “an under-representation” of the number of data analysts and data scientists.

Mr Iyengar also said that the numerous data misuse scandals which have come to light in recent years have given consumers an insight into how their own personal data is being captured, collected and used by online services. Mr Iyengar said it is the responsibility of organisations to ensure data is secure and protected against cyber attackers and other malicious parties.

“HMRC should be commended for recognising this obligation, and bolstering data spend, and other organisations across the public and private sector should be following suit. Said organisations should simultaneously be reinvesting in their services, ensuring that websites and eCommerce platforms, for example, are secure and completely transparent to customers about how their data is being used.”