The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recently published its report on HMRC’s ‘Quality of service’. The PAC assessed HMRC’s customer service performance since January 2015.
It appears that HMRC underestimated the demand for telephone calls and reduced its staff numbers by 5,600, leading to “a collapse in customer service levels” in 2014/15 and early 2015/16. Taxpayers spent some four million hours waiting for HMRC to answer the ‘phone! Later in 2015 after the recruitment of 2,400 new staff, waiting times improved.
The PAC warned that HMRC needs ‘a clear understanding of customer behaviour’ before implementing plans further to cut its personal tax services in the next five years, and said HMRC has serious work to do before this Committee is confident it can provide a consistent, efficient service that properly meets the needs of taxpayers and optimises tax revenue.
The PAC made the following recommendations on service:-
- HMRC must provide an acceptable and consistent level of service to customers that ensures all calls are answered promptly and dealt with effectively;
- HMRC must test whether its forecasts of demand are realistic and be prepared to flex its resources as necessary to ensure service demand is met. Specifically HMRC should look to pilot its new digital services before they are widely implemented;
- HMRC must make significant progress in understanding and measuring the relationship between service quality and tax revenue, and report back by the end of 2016.
Date: 4th August, 2016
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