HM Revenue and Customs

HM Revenue and Customs

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HM Revenue and Customs' performance in responding to calls has been poor. In 2008-09, HMRC answered only 57 per cent of the 103 million calls to its main helplines, compared to an industry standard of 95 per cent; callers waited on average two minutes, and nearly four minutes in peak periods to speak to an advisor; and yet contact centre staff spent only 38 per cent of their time handling calls against an industry benchmark of 60 per cent. HMRC has set a target to answer more than 90 per cent of calls by March 2012, but achieving this would still fall short of best practice. It could do more to reduce the confusion caused by having 139 telephone numbers. A total of 6.8 million calls failed accuracy checks in 2008-09 because advisors did not follow guidance and procedures, but HMRC does not know how often the advice it provides by telephone is actually incorrect. HMRC could also match staffing levels more closely to levels of demand, as the number of calls fluctuates significantly around key statutory deadlines during the year. There are also significant opportunities to reduce costs and improve its responsiveness by reducing the number of unnecessary calls. HMRC estimates that 35 per cent of calls are avoidable, often from people seeking to clarify information they had received which they did not understand, or chasing progress on items being processed in other parts of the department.We now have a new computer system that we introduced last year which means that any one of our tax advisers can take any PAYE phone ... that our caseloads are growing, because of course we do have access to the MPsa#39; helpline, particularly on things like tax credits. ... of providing all calls free to all of our customers versus the fact that at the moment some of our customers do pay via 0845 numbers.

Title:HM Revenue and Customs
Author:Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Accounts
Publisher:The Stationery Office - 2010-03-25


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