Tuesday 29 January 2013

Hanging On The Telephone - Is Homer Telling Porkies?

As loyal readers are well aware the subject of calling HMRC on the phone often appears as a subject on this site, along with the issue of callers racking up phone bills as they hang on the phone waiting for an answer.

In April 2011 I wrote about that very subject:
"The issue wrt 0845 has been around for a number of years, I commented on it in 2008 and again in 2009. One anonymous commentator at the time noted that the 0845 numbers are free (along with various comments that this site was shite etc:). That being the case why does the Treasury Select Committee say that they are not free, and why did Strathie not correct them?

In the video Strathie states (with a degree of exasperation) that HMRC do not make any money from the 0845 numbers. As I noted in 2009 I have no reason to disbelieve this statement. However, it is possible that Cable and Wireless (who provide the service) offset part of the fees that they charge HMRC with the revenue stream from the 0845 numbers
Here we are, almost two years later, and Lin Homer has finally admitted that Cable & Wireless (the phone service provider for HMRC) is making a nice little earner out of the contract from HMRC's hapless callers.

Apparently it is not a "huge" sum though, "less than £1M"!

Homer also admitted that HMRC get some "freebies" out of the deal.

And why not?

After all, in this "bugger thy neighbour" world why shouldn't a government department make a little on the side as well?

Homer, "oddly" though, wouldn't tell the PAC yesterday how much Cable and Wireless make. As per the Telegraph:
We are renegotiating this contract over the next 12 months. I am loathe to give out how much I am prepared to pay for this in a public committee.”
Her refusal to answer is "interesting", because in December 2012 I noted that the NAO report on HMRC's call handling stated that HMRC didn't have any oversight as to how much Cable & Wireless made:
"Oh and by the way, whilst my dander is up, the fact that HMRC don't know how much Cable & Wireless (the telephony provider) make out of the contract, nor does HMRC have any right to oversight, is farking disgraceful!

Page 8 para 13:

"Cable & Wireless provides HMRC’s phone service and receives a proportion of the call charges borne by the customer. HMRC has chosen not to receive a share of the revenue and does not know how much Cable & Wireless receives because it has no contractual access to this information."
Now what does this mean?

It means either the NAO report is wrong (eg HMRC had given it erroneous information), or that Homer has told a porkie to PAC yesterday.

Which is it?

Oh wait,  Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office has also remembered what was in his report in December. He suggested that HMRC had withheld information about profits on the phone lines, telling Mrs Homer that he had repeatedly asked for the data and not been given it:
I am surprised that it has only come out today."

Methinks NAO were made fools of by HMRC.

Tomorrow I will be discussing Homer's views on HMRC's letter handling "capabilities".

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Not sure where to start

    First off, is there anyone out there that believes a word that Homer says these days given her track record including Birmingham City Council & UKBA & currently, revolving doors notwithstanding, HMRC?

    Next, do you honestly think that Homer/HMRC give a flying fig about f*ck all when it comes to service & customer relations?

    Who was responsible for the existing phones contract and why was such a contract required?

    Who is taking the money in all this if HMRC are not and C&W only receive a "proportion", or is the proportion 100%?

    Amyas Morse, he referred to by HMRC as Amyas by HMRC - "HMRC made fools of NAO", that is a big understatement, the dots have yet to be joined!

  2. Yawn...
    Same old, same old, HMRC caught out again, lies, NAO breaks wind, failed again but its only public money
    HMRC crawl back whence they came