My thanks to the loyal reader who posted a link to the above video, which shows a recent encounter between the Grande Dame (Lesley Strathie) and the Treasury Select Committee on 16 March 2011.
The Grande Dame was being questioned about the quantity of different phone numbers that HMRC have for contacting them, and the fact that they are 0845.
The Grande Dame failed to give any deadlines for reducing the number of lines, or switching from the more expensive 0845 numbers.
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.
That of course is purely speculation on my part, as I have not seen the agreement between C&W and HMRC.
That aside, do watch and enjoy the video; Strathie is absolutely hopeless.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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