My thanks to a loyal reader who copied me an email that he has sent to David Gauke wrt waiting times etc when calling HMRC.
Strictly speaking there is no minister with specific overall responsibility for HMRC. However, Gauke is the closest thing to such.
Here is the text of the email, which I have been given permission to publish; I understand that my loyal reader will send Gauke an email everytime he is on hold.
Sent: Tuesday, 1 January 2013, 12:24
Subject: HMRC telephones
Hello Mr Gauke
I understand you are the minister responsible for HMRC. I can only assume you have done something wrong to deserve this!
I noted the heavy criticism of HMRC's use of 0845 numbers to defraud the public and wondered why nothing has been done about it. The current VAT help line has a 3 minute+ recorded 'did you know' message before one can even select a number to begin the queuing process.
We are a small accountancy practice which spends most of is telephone bills - £150 a month - calling and being kept waiting on HMRC 0845 telephone numbers. I intend to bill HMRC for this money along with the time spend waiting beyond 2 minutes at our usual rate of £55 an hour with effect from 1 February 2013. We shall send the invoices marked for your attention at your address. If I do not hear back from you in the next 7 days I shall assume this is acceptable to you on behalf of HMRC. We will also commence billing HMRC whenever it claims we are not authorised to act on behalf of a client because their computer system or operators cannot find our authority. Again we shall assume this is acceptable to HMRC unless we hear to the contrary within 7 days. For the avoidance of any doubt this is 7 working days, which for most of us outside the la la land of the public sector means 365 days a year.
We are also concerned that HMRC is currently advising (on a recorded message taking several minutes to get to, on an 0845 number of course) that it will take in excess of 5 weeks for 64-8 forms to be processed due to the busy time of the year. It is ironic that HMRC is always busy in December/January because HMRC makes it so and then uses it as an excuse to be even more inefficient than normal!
Please take this e-mail as advance notification that December 2013 and January 2014 will also be busy due to HMRC making it so. This gives you as the minister 11 months advance notice to be prepared.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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