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HMRC to invest £45 million in customer service

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed it is setting aside £45 million to improve its levels of customer services after official figures showed that 7.2 million phone calls made in the last year went through directly to a ‘busy’ tone.

Between April 2014 and March 2015, 64.7 million phone calls were made to HMRC, of which almost 47 million were successfully dealt with.

Subsequently, 72.5 per cent of calls were answered successfully during these months, falling short of the tax authority’s target of 80 per cent.

The £45 million investment will come from the current spending settlement and is not additional revenue requested from the Treasury.

It’s anticipated the investment will pay for around 3,000 additional staff to join customer service teams, while a further 2,000 staff are being moved temporarily to assist with the tax credits deadline and any other letters or forms.

Lin Homer, chief executive, HMRC, said: “Despite our best efforts, our call performance hasn’t been up to scratch and we apologise to all those customers who have struggled to get through to us.

“Good customer service is an absolute priority for HMRC. We set ourselves the target to answer 80 per cent of calls, to provide a more consistent level of service across the year and to reduce peaks and troughs in service levels between busy and quieter times.

“We have also invested in new telephone equipment, which lets us switch calls to many more offices, not just take them in contact centres, so more of our staff can help customers at the busiest times.

“Our new online services are also giving customers new and better ways to deal with HMRC and I urge all customers who can go online to do so.

“For services like tax credits, it’s quick, simple and can be done anywhere any time, including from a smartphone.”

To date, 265,000 people have already renewed their tax credits online this year, compared with just 97,000 at the same point last year; thus highlighting the steady shift towards HMRC’s online system.

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