MPs expose woeful HMRC phone service

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HMRC’s new target for answering calls from taxpayers is "unambitious and woefully inadequate" according to a new report from the Public Accounts Committee.

The report says HMRC received 79 million calls in 2011/12, but 20 million of these calls were not answered. A third of the letters received in the same period were not given a response within a 15-day target.

The committee also revealed the aim of answering 80% of calls within five minutes would still see 16 million callers waiting longer than that to be answered by HMRC. The five minute response falls well short of the industry benchmark of 80% of calls being answered within 20 seconds.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said...

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About Robert Lovell

Business and finance journalist


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    18th Mar 2013 12:11

    I hope the word recognition works better than BT's

    BT's system can't understand anything I say. It is extremely frustrating to be told by a machine that it didn't understand ... and asks me if I said 'account' ..'No' I say, I said 'complaint' ... and then the machine tells me it didn't understand and asks if I said 'account' ..... ad infinitum!

    I doubt a saint himself would have the patience ... and I certainly don't! I must admit I chicken out after about 10 minutes of this and I ask my very patient employee to take care of it, otherwise I risk high blood pressure & heart attack. Unless the new HMRC word recognition is very good I can foresee it leading to mass suicide or murder and I may well be first in the queue for one or the other.

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    18th Mar 2013 13:03

    Not rocket science

    It's simple to solve this isn't it?

    More and better trained, and perhaps better paid, HMRC staff.

    That would solve the communication problem, both telephone and correspondence. As a result: better tax compliance; better and more timely and accurate tax collection. And, of course, improved HMRC staff morale.

    The increased tax collected would more than pay for the more and better trained, maybe better paid, HMRC staff. Result!

    Senior HMRC inspectors could then concentrate on large multinational and national companies business and high earning/high value individuals, identifying and following through on tax avoidance and prosecuting tax evaders to the full extent of the law, supported one hopes by the Courts. Large amounts of additional previously unpaid tax could be collected. Result!

    It's really not rocket science is it?



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    18th Mar 2013 13:05


    And if HMRC could somehow see their way to permitting email communication that would I think be hugely helpful!

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