I see one of the news issues raised related to HMRC service standards.
Economia reported that the ICAEW Tax Faculty has told David Gauke that service levels are still not at an acceptable level, and that members aren't too chuffed about HMRC chasing incorrect RTI liabilities and the proposed new power to collect tax debts direct from bank accounts.
Performance statistics for the quarter ended 31 December 2013 showed that HMRC's overall telephone call performance over the period had fallen by 5.4% when compared with the same quarter in 2012.
Although the number of telephone calls to HMRC contact centres handled within five minutes over the period was up by 24.2% when compared with Q3 2013, this still meant a success rate of just 66.6%.
The Faculty has asked HMRC to increase the number of front line staff deployed to answering phone calls at peak times of the year, so that calls can be answered more efficiently.
It would also like to see better training across the board, so that staff answering calls are able to deal with issues more effectively.
These requests are all very well. However, given the ongoing restructuring in HMRC, the squeeze on budgets and moves to towards more automation these requests will I fear fall upon deaf ears.
It seems that the introduction in November last year of HMRC’s intelligent telephony automation (ITA) system, which includes speech automated security to identify callers’ identities, has also caused some irritation.
Seemingly the system fails to recognise key words such as “trusts” and “Intrastat”.
As per the ICAEW quoted by economia:
“Our members expressed frustration that when the ITA failed to recognise key words to connect them to an adviser, they hung up, redialled and tried again using different key words. This increases the user’s overall call time, costs and dissatisfaction.”Thus the ICAEW recommends a return to the old system of pressing a number on the phone to find the right part of the menu.
All in all the concerns about call handling, RTI and PAYE issues have given the ICAEW less than stellar confidence in granting HMRC powers to raid bank accounts.
Let us see how that pans out!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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