The Secret Intelligence Services, including NSA and MI5, recruit some of the countries top graduates into both internal development programmes (such as the Intelligence Officer Development Programmes) as well as external positions within the UK Civil Service.  HMRC for example is one of the country's largest employers, recruiting some 56,000 individuals working across a wide array of positions, supported by Government funding of over £4bn.  It is fairly well known now that the intelligence agencies are keen to recruit both graduates and experienced professionals in numerous fields throughout the civil service.  Not all positions can, or do, allow for full time roles as fully fledged employees of the intelligence organisations, mostly as a result of budgetary constraints and other limited resources.  It makes senses therefore that the core role of many 'part time' employees or 'weekend warrior' personnel is often specialising in other key roles, on hand as and when their talents are required.  That said, the relatively recent acknowledgment that Sections 5 and 6 exist in an official capacity, now opens up the opportunity of the organisations to take part in the traditional 'milk round' route.  So, in essence, recruitment within the organisations is not a simple vanilla operation and instead is made up of a mixture of paths towards a role within the service.  For example, roles within the FCO and HO will often yield candidates who may be well suited to positions which operate in both roles.  Language specialists, academics specialising in science and technology (targeted by GCHQ), recruiters operating within Occupational Psychology, ex-police or military personnel with surveillance and counter espionage experience......all are extremely varied and represent the diverse professional, cultural and religious backgrounds targeted by the organisation.  Below are some of the key gateways into the security services, both directly and indirectly.

HMRC - The Tax Professional role


Tax is a complex business offering a varied and stimulating range of career pathways and opportunities to specialise - for example, in international and corporation tax, investigation, fraud, tax policy or as a manager, technical specialist or consultant.

Eventually you’ll find your own niche, but along the way you will learn how to:

  • resolve tax disputes

  • lead teams

  • deal with senior business figures and allied professionals (such as lawyers and accountants)

  • tackle complex tax work

The Tax Specialist Programme is particularly suitable for people who are enthusiastic about:

  • dealing with people

  • tackling complex issues

  • using their intellect and solving problems

  • investigating and finding out how businesses function

  • analysing and interpreting information

  • persuasive communication: influencing, negotiating and challenging

Roles are as diverse as HMRC’s work - you could find yourself:

  • making ‘site’ visits and interviewing directors, their lawyers and accountants

  • negotiating settlements and resolving tax disputes

  • representing HMRC at Appeal Tribunals

  • investigating fraud

  • working as a consultant, offering specialist advice to teams across the business

  • leading your own teams of tax professionals

  • considering and agreeing the application of tax statute and case law

  • taking responsibility for managing the relationship between HMRC and key businesses and their advisers

The programme is designed to give you a broad insight into the range of the tax work HMRC undertakes. It’s the perfect foundation for a wide-ranging career, and offers the opportunity to find your way as you develop. HMRC will encourage and support you in exploring and developing your own particular skills and knowledge.


What is the HMRC looking for?

For the Tax Specialist Programme you must have a 2:2 degree or equivalent at application stage, or the expectation of a 2:2 degree or equivalent before September 2019. Existing Civil Servants can apply without a degree.

We’re looking for people who demonstrate enthusiasm, and are

  • independent thinkers who can confidently express their views and make decisions

  • strong analytical thinkers and problem solvers who can work out what needs to be done and take pride in doing it to completion

  • committed, with determination and resilience, to complete an intensive 3-year training programme

  • team players who can also exercise their initiative

  • adaptable to shifts in business focus and the needs of HMRC’s customers, so people they deal with have no doubt about their integrity and professionalism, because everything HMRC does must be above suspicion and comply with the Civil Service Code


All civil servants are appointed on merit through fair and open competition. The selection process will consider your attitude, capability, talent and willingness to learn. If appointed you will be and are expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.

Training - what to expect

This is an intensive programme lasting around 3 years. It’s designed to equip you with both technical (tax) knowledge and the professional skills you will need to apply that knowledge when dealing with your customers.

The tax technical element is delivered by HMRC’s Tax Academy. It is a well-recognised and highly successful programme delivered by tax professionals who understand the work and can put the learning into context. It is split into 2 stages.

Stage 1 provides you with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills across different areas of tax.

Stage 2 deepens your tax knowledge and also builds your broader professional skills and other competences that HMRC needs from its future tax professional leaders. During this time, you will be working towards gaining a BA (Hons) degree in Professional Studies in Taxation. Please note that the way in which we deliver this tax technical element of the programme is currently under review and may change.

Throughout, you will be working with and learning from an experienced team, and your responsibility will increase in line with your knowledge and confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying out interviews and site visits, and perhaps even leading a team.


Your programme will include:

  • practical work experience in teams, on live assignments

  • self-study modules

  • tutor-led sessions at one of our training centres

  • ongoing exams and practical work assessments designed to build up your knowledge of tax law and practice

  • regular reviews and appraisals


The programme has a modular structure, each one commonly lasting between 2 to 4 months. You will have to demonstrate your application of acquired knowledge and skills in the workplace and there is often a formal exam at the completion of a module. Your manager will also monitor and assess your performance throughout.

On successful completion of the programme, you will be promoted to a Grade 7 post as a senior tax professional. You might take on a technical/investigative role, a customer relationship manager role or be involved in formulating tax policy. Wherever you find yourself, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills essential to deal with anything from international issues or large companies to fraud, policy development or managing cases.

The programme can be completed on part time hours and the minimum number of hours recommended would be 30 hours per week. Successful candidates will be able to discuss their preferred working patterns with their manager. We are also hoping to offer a longer, more flexible programme for those with alternative working patterns, incorporating alternative delivery options. If you would like more information on this, or have any other general enquiries please email



2019 Tax Specialist Programme locations will be as follows:

  • Belfast

  • Birmingham

  • Bristol

  • Cardiff

  • Edinburgh

  • Glasgow

  • Leeds

  • Liverpool

  • London (Greater)

  • London (Central)

  • Manchester

  • Newcastle

  • Nottingham



For Tax Specialist Programme you must have a 2:2 degree or equivalent at application stage, or the expectation of a 2:2 degree or equivalent by September 2019.

Existing Civil Servants can apply without a degree.


Nationality and immigration

The HMRC Tax Specialist Programme is open to applicants who are:

  • European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, including British citizens

  • Commonwealth citizens

  • Swiss nationals

  • in some circumstances, Turkish nationals


Right to work requirement

In addition to the nationality requirement, you must have the right to work in the UK.

Eligibility requirements are explained in more detail in the Civil Service nationality rules and you can check visa requirements using the UK visa checker

HMRC is not able to sponsor applications for UK government visas associated with these jobs.

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A Government run, uniform and credible safety certificate to be used across the board, would benefit UK business greatly.

Wuhan conspiracy theories aside, diplomatic traction is the reward.


A week or two ago we wrote an article "Conspiracies & Ripples" which focused primarily on conspiracy theories and kicked off with the rather obvious statement that a conspiracy theory is simply a theory without the facts i.e. just a theory.  Within that we highlighted that ‘flavour of the month’ theorist’s delight, the origins of the Coronavirus and its links to Wuhan.  This echoed our views published in February which, as many did, ponder the chances of this remote coincidence maybe actually being true.  Since then there have been swathes of articles on the topic citing all sort of sources and from numerous ‘renowned’ scientists.  We have also recently had the opinions offered by those whose opinions really count, that this virus originating from the labs in Wuhan may not actually be so far-fetched after all.

We do tend to agree, or at least we did.  That was then and this is now and in the world of Politics things move quickly and one does have to look at the reality of the situation.  If there is enough fog between you and your destination, then sometimes the route you take can change, leaving you all sorts of options.  If the objective was originally to circumnavigate through uncertain waters to establish who, what, why and when the virus came about – then that is now lost in the fog.  It is arbitrary.  Now we have something that is far more concrete and tangible to use to our advantage – we have uncertainty.  We now have enough debate and conspiracy to render the findings of the scientists open to interpretation.  And that… is a diplomat’s dream come true.   This particular carcass will feed many and although the WHO will go in, on the ground, and no doubt find yet more uncertainty…it really is irrelevant.  You will certainly not find individual government’s chomping at the bit to send their representatives into Wuhan anytime soon, and even if they did, why?  Wuhan is not some sleepy suburb in leafy Northamptonshire… it is in China.  Whatever was there has long gone, if indeed it was ever even there.  So perhaps it would be wise to assume that at least for the next few decades this is a conspiracy that will never find out those salient facts. 

Now, listening to the scientists, there is an overwhelming urge to say, “shush now”.  Step back ladies and gentlemen and look at the bigger picture at play.  Nobody is actually interested whether or not the virus started in Wuhan, intentionally or not.  As long as it is open to debate, it is far more valuable.  The scientists have debated at length and argued, but there is still no unequivocal proof either way that satisfies all parties…and why could that be?  Scientific fact is not open to debate or questioning, that is a given.  However, to say Science is correct, is not true.  That is because Science has Scientists, and Scientists are human beings who in turn are fallible and motivated by many many other factors.  In China for example, one might say that scientific fact is exactly what they want it to be.  Indeed, who is to say it ends in China.


So why is uncertainty such a blessing in this case?  It provides an additional bargaining chip and a weapon in the armoury for all Governments to now use against the Chinese.  Maybe on the other side of the fence their own initial conspiracy theory that a foreign Government (the US) planted the virus in their midst, is being written about in their own press.  Or maybe not. The fact is it is a safe bet to assume that no body will ever know.  There will be no compensations or admissions of guilt in this case sadly…however the capillaceous network that is politics, diplomacy and economic negotiations will be the real beneficiaries.


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