PAC has warned HMRC not to risk a “collapse in customer service” (it's not "customers" it's "taxpayers"!) by understaffing its phone lines amid expectations that a digital revamp of its services will produce cost savings.
As per the FT, PAC urged HMRC not to “underestimate the demand for telephone contact” from taxpayers as it attempts to cut the cost of its personal tax services by 34% by 2020-21 to meet spending targets.
The report said the impact of staff cuts had caused taxpayers to spend “some four million hours waiting for HMRC to answer the phone” in the 2015-16 tax year, incurring call charges to its 0300 phone numbers while they were on hold. These numbers cost up to 45p per minute to call from a mobile, and 12p per minute from a landline.
The average time taxpayers spent on hold reached almost 35 minutes in one week in October 2015 — with almost 30 per cent of all calls unanswered last year as callers simply gave up.
“Every £1 saved by HMRC on telephone services over this period [resulted] in an estimated £4 in extra costs to customers.”In other words HMRC no longer cares about taxpayers, merely its own self interest!
Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, said:
“The prospect of HMRC making further cuts to spending on customer service will chill the blood of many taxpayers.”HMRC thinks that PAC is talking bollocks, it said the MPs’ report was an “inaccurate, out-of-date reflection of our phone performance”.
“We acknowledge that service levels in the early part of last year were not acceptable and we apologised at the time.
But the PAC is well aware our phone lines have since fully recovered and we are now offering our best service levels in years. There’s never been a more convenient service for our customers.”
Good luck, all in all an impossible set of tasks!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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