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The HM Revenue and Customs already dismal record on answering customer calls and replying to post is getting worse with abject failure in meeting targets for call handling and dealing with customer letters.

The percentage of calls answered by the taxman dropped to 72.5 per cent, more than one in four compared with 79 per cent last year. It also missed its 80 per cent target for turning around post within 15 working days falling to a dismal 70 per cent from 83 per cent in the previous 12 months according to HMRC’s annual report.

HMRC admitted that it ‘faced a difficult start to the new financial year’ as the introduction of a new telephone system late last year led to longer call handling times, reducing the number of calls it can handle in a day.

In its attempt to limit the3se problems it had decided to prioritise dealing with phone calls over postal inquiries. This strategy clearly failed on both counts.

Lin  Homer HMRC’s chief executive said “ Our customer service levels slipped this year, but the work we are already doing on digitising our services using real-time information and creating online tax accounts for individuals and businesses will help us to improve customer service as well as voluntary compliance”

HMRC cut its estimate of the amount of money it would save through outsourcing checks on tax credit fraud and errors from £1billion to just £423 million.

The customer service failures overshadowed record tax revenues of £517.7 billion up by £11.9 billion on the previous year. Most of the increase came from VAT receipts up by £5.7 billion and income tax and national insurance up by £2.3billion.

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