Despite the fact that HMRC's call centres are unloved by both taxpayers and staff alike, those who "run" HMRC are determined to reduce the number of opportunities that taxpayers have for face to face discussions with a member of staff.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) report that HMRC has cut the opening hours in 58 of its 280 tax enquiry centres, with some now open for just one or two days a week.
They also note that another 117 might suffer cuts as well, as a result of a consultation that is currently underway.
HMRC told AccountingWEB:
"HMRC's customers across the UK are increasingly using our telephone and online services, rather than visiting our face-to-face enquiry centres, which has led to us reviewing the opening hours of those centres with lower footfall.
Face-to-face inquiries have reduced across the UK by 40% since 2006/07. During 2008, we piloted reduced opening in 10 locations with no adverse impact on customers, and in March 2010 we introduced shorter opening hours at 58 centres across the UK."
There's the "C" word again!
LITRG contend that the reduced demand is due to the fact that the quality of service offered is "pants" (so to speak), and that the hapless taxpayer is forced to go to the voluntary sector for decent advice.
Are call centres (if you can get through) better than a face to face enquiry centre?
Views and opinions welcome, as always.
BTW, HMRC contend that the staff who work in the enquiry centres facing cuts will be deployed to other duties (eg answering correspondence).
Do the members of staff facing these cuts actually believe that?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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