HMRC to close phone lines again over summer

new permanent summer closure introduced

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HMRC has today announced that phone lines will close from 8 April - 30 September - every year.


Agent phone lines to remain open but expect online chat facility to be busier.




Replies (13)

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By nrw2
19th Mar 2024 11:21

Disgraceful. Imagine any private company refusing to speak to its 'enterprise scale' customers (ie those paying £000s annually) for 5 months.

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Replying to nrw2:
By K81
19th Mar 2024 11:23

I think its appalling - haven't they just been hauled over the coals for their customer service hitting an all time low !

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Replying to nrw2:
By FactChecker
19th Mar 2024 13:55

It's *considerably* worse than the headline indicates, which is why it is on the front page of the BBC News site ...

* Self-assessment telephone helpline will be permanently closed between 8 April and 30 September AND will deal with priority cases *only* for the rest of the year.
* VAT helpline will only be open for five business days every month ahead of the deadline for filing VAT returns
* PAYE helpline will no longer take calls from customers relating to refunds

Illustrates rather neatly the pointlessness of any 'trialling' or 'consultations' carried out by HMRC ... who, like Nelson, "see no problems" - but have now added the super power of "not hearing anything" either.

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By DonDan
19th Mar 2024 11:48

I think calling it "the summer" is generous. it looks very much like 6 months to me.

They are a disgraceful organisation.

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Replying to DonDan:
By K81
19th Mar 2024 11:53

Yes six months now & then they will probably decide to close the lines in December & January again also!

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By DKB-Sheffield
19th Mar 2024 11:57

Disgraceful 'customer' service!

On a brighter note... we can look forward to the resurrection of the CIS Refunds thread!

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By Jason Croke
19th Mar 2024 11:59

All this does is create future backlogs.

I appreciate that HMRC only has 5 full time employees and that if they are all on the helpline then no other work will get done, but taking those 5 off the helpline to focus on something else, all it means is people will write into HMRC and then HMRC will end up with a massive backlog of unanswered mail to deal with.

Pushing to use online is great when what you want to do is simple and easy, but anything outside of the norm requires assistance and that is where this whole strategy fails.

People (and tax agents) will just go back to writing letters, it covers the clients backside and the tax agents, sending an email doesn't have the same confidence as a letter, we know HMRC regularly ignore emails to the VAT registration inbox for example.

This shutting down nonsense is not a solution, HMRC clearly are under resourced and under staffed, those cost cutting measures aren't working and instead of Harra asking for more money and fighting his staffs corner (or at least asking for a pause in cost cutting), he is following his orders as it doesn't affect him and doesn't want that CBE title to be at risk come retirement.

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By SkyBlue22
19th Mar 2024 12:03

Does anyone actually work at HMRC now (other than in the debt departments!)

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By AdamJones82
19th Mar 2024 13:12

If only Summer was that long

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By Jason Croke
19th Mar 2024 13:28

"VAT helpline: there are monthly peaks which occur around the VAT filing deadline. The VAT helpline will open for 5 business days each month leading up to and including the VAT deadline. At other times VAT customers can use our webchat services to get support. This will improve service levels overall by concentrating our adviser resource at the point in time it’s most needed"

So basically open up the helpline for 5 days before the return deadline.

What is the VAT deadline though? End of the quarter, the 7th of the following month? What about those on payment on Account?

The whole point of a Help Line is to give a customer the opportunity to ask for help. HMRC see it as an inconvenience, just shut up and pay your taxes!

Utterly pathetic, if we had a functioning government then you'd hope someone would give HMRC a good slap and tell it to take a grip.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By FactChecker
19th Mar 2024 14:15

The very opening line of their email shows just how stupid they think we are:
"From 8 April 2024 we will be making changes to our helplines to encourage more customers to use our online services."

I guess that's 'encourage' as in withdrawing lifeguards so as to encourage people to swim?

More seriously, 'encourage' suggests that there's an alternative ... but the only option left if you're unsure of what to enter will be to make up a number (and, most surprisingly, any fictitious figures won't be to the advantage of the tax collector).

Do they think we (taxpayers in general not just agents) really are that stupid? Or are they that stupid themselves? Or don't they care anymore?
I know which one gets my vote - and it's not looking good!

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
19th Mar 2024 13:34

They are clearly going to can it longer term, and we will be into the realms of complete unaccountability.

If they simply let agents see and do what clients could do on their portals it would save about 20% of calls.
if they did things first time rather than needing to chase up, it would save another 60%
if they let agents do basic things like set coding notices online, remove people from SA who dont meet the critera, this would save another 10%.

Then the remaining 10% of calls would probably be actually needed.

But no, just close the lines.

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By FactChecker
19th Mar 2024 14:06

Anyone prepared to wager a bet ... that all SA taxpayers will, shortly after 8th April, receive the same letter from HMRC that they get every year 'encouraging you to file early, file now'?

Given that their new 'policy' could have the sub-title "Don't do now what you can put off for 6 months" ... will they be monitoring the decrease in submissions over this time?

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